Development (Cambridge, England)

Decoupling of amniote gastrulation and streak formation reveals a morphogenetic unity in vertebrate mesoderm induction.

PMID 23698348


Mesoderm is formed during gastrulation. This process takes place at the blastopore in lower vertebrates and in the primitive streak (streak) in amniotes. The evolutionary relationship between the blastopore and the streak is unresolved, and the morphogenetic and molecular changes leading to this shift in mesoderm formation during early amniote evolution are not well understood. Using the chick model, we present evidence that the streak is dispensable for mesoderm formation in amniotes. An anamniote-like circumblastoporal mode of gastrulation can be induced in chick and three other amniote species. The induction requires cooperative activation of the FGF and Wnt pathways, and the induced mesoderm field retains anamniote-like dorsoventral patterning. We propose that the amniote streak is homologous to the blastopore in lower vertebrates and evolved from the latter in two distinct steps: an initial pan-amniote posterior restriction of mesoderm-inducing signals; and a subsequent lineage-specific morphogenetic modification of the pre-ingression epiblast.