Mount Holyoke College

Killifish Embryo Deep Cell Migration

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(Three movies on this page)

These sequences were filmed by Rachel Fink, Mount Holyoke College.

Individual deep cells migrate throughout the yolk sac of embryonic killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus. These cells migrate through the extracellular matrix of the subepithelial space. Because the embryos are large and transparent, they are ideal for video microscopy. Every detail of locomotion can be viewed as these cells migrate in vivo. The sequence above shows two migrating cells. The next sequence shows what is called circus movements. When a deep cell migrates using hemispheric blebs, these blebs often spread laterally across the margin of the cell. The blebs are regions where the plasma membrane "lets go" of the underlying cytoskeleton, and internal fluid pressure herniates out a bleb. New research in the Fink laboratory (summer 2001) is on visualizing the actin cytoskeleton in these migrating deep cells. To see fluorescent actin movies, click on this link.

To understand how deep cells are involved in making an embryo, this next sequence is a much lower-power view of a region of the embryo where deep cells are converging to form the dorsal midline--the place where the embryo proper will form. This aggregation center is at the lower left-hand corner of this field of view. In this sequence you can see how deep cells migrate individually and as small clusters.