Mechanisms of epibolic tissue spreading analyzed in a model morphogenetic system. Roles for cell migration and tissue contractility. Academic Article uri icon


  • The processes responsible for epithelial spreading during wound healing and embryonic morphogenesis were investigated in an organ culture model in which an epithelial tissue (chick embryo pigmented retinal epithelium) spread over the surface of an aggregate of mesenchyme cells (chick embryo cardiac mesenchyme). The heart mesenchyme aggregate is differentiated into a core of stellate cells associated with a fibronectin-poor matrix surrounded by a cortical zone, 2-5 cells in thickness, of flattened cells embedded in a fibronectin-rich extracellular matrix. Envelopment of the mesenchyme aggregate is accompanied by a movement of the cells and the fibronectin-rich extracellular matrix of the cortex over the core tissue in advance of the spreading pigmented retina tissue. Three distinct processes were identified as contributing to epithelial spreading in this system: (1) active migration of the pigmented retinal epithelium; (2) active contraction of the cortical cells of the mesenchyme aggregate to tow the attached epithelial tissue over the mesenchyme aggregate; and (3) ingression of surface-located cells of the mesenchyme aggregate to decrease the exposed surface area by decreasing the number of cells at the surface.

publication date

  • June 1992