Development of the early axon scaffold in the rostral brain of the chick embryo

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The arrangement of the early nerve connections in the embryonic vertebrate brain follows a well-conserved pattern, forming the early axon scaffold. The early axon tracts have been described in a number of anamniote species and in mouse, but a detailed analysis in chick is lacking. We have used immunostaining, axon tracing and in situ hybridisation to analyse the development of the early axon scaffold in the embryonic chick brain in relation to the neuromeric organisation of the brain. The first tract to be formed is the medial longitudinal fascicle (MLF), shortly followed by the tract of the postoptic commissure to pioneer the ventral longitudinal tract system. The MLF was found to originate from three different populations of neurones located in the diencephalon. Neurones close to the dorsal midline of the mesencephalon establish the descending tract of the mesencephalic nucleus of the trigeminus. Their axons pioneer the lateral longitudinal tract. At later stages, the tract of the posterior commissure emerges in the caudal pretectum as the first transversal tract. It is formed by dorsally projecting axons from neurones located in the ventral pretectum, and by ventrally projecting axons from neurones located in the dorsal pretectum. The organisation of neurones and axons in the chick brain is similar to that described in the mouse, though tracts form in a different order and appear more clearly distinguished than in the mammalian model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-216
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


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