Collagen and Embryonic Development

  • Elizabeth D. Hay


The possible importance of the extracellular matrix (ECM) to the development of the vertebrate embryo has been recognized since the turn of the century, but it was not until the fine structure of the molecule was fully appreciated that the first serious thought was given to a role of collagen per se in morphogenesis (see Gross, 1956). Collagen is initially detected in the vertebrate embryo at about the time of gastrulation (see Green et al., 1968; Cohen and Hay, 1971; Manasek, 1975), that is, at the time the cleaving embryo begins to form the primary embryonic tissues (ectoderm, mesoderm, endoderm). In the avian embryo, basement (basal) laminae first appear under the ectoderm and endoderm when the primitive streak is forming, and the mesenchymal cells that migrate from the primitive streak between ectoderm and endoderm seem to move along these basement laminae (see Hay, 1968). As the primitive streak regresses, the notochord forms in front of it (Fig. 12-1). The first fibrillar collagen appears around the notochord and is produced by it (Carlson and Upson, 1974). Proteoglycans (PG) and other matrix molecules also begin to accumulate between the embryonic tissues at or somewhat before this time (Hay, 1973; Kosher and Searls, 1973; Wartiovaara et al., 1980).


Mesenchymal Cell Neural Tube Basal Surface Corneal Epithelium Primitive Streak 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth D. Hay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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