C Araya, M Tawk, GC Girdler, M Costa, C Carmona-Fontaine, JD Clarke
BACKGROUND: Morphogenesis of the zebrafish neural tube requires the coordinated movement of many cells in both time and space. A good example of this is the movement of the cells in the zebrafish neural plate as they converge towards the dorsal midline before internalizing to form a neural keel. How these cells are regulated to ensure that they move together as a coherent tissue is unknown. Previous work in other systems has suggested that the underlying mesoderm may play a role in this process but this has not been shown directly in vivo. RESULTS: Here we analyze the roles of subjacent mesoderm in the coordination of neural cell movements during convergence of the zebrafish neural plate and neural keel formation. Live imaging demonstrates that the normal highly coordinated movements of neural plate cells are lost in the absence of underlying mesoderm and the movements of internalization and neural tube formation are severely disrupted. Despite this, neuroepithelial polarity develops in the abnormal neural primordium but the resulting tissue architecture is very disorganized. CONCLUSIONS: We show that the movements of cells in the zebrafish neural plate are highly coordinated during the convergence and internalization movements of neurulation. Our results demonstrate that the underlying mesoderm is required for these coordinated cell movements in the zebrafish neural plate in vivo.