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BACKGROUND: During embryonic development, complex changes in cell behavior generate the final form of the tissues. Extension of cell protrusions have been described as an important component in this process. Cellular protrusions have been associated with generation of traction, intercellular communication or establishment of signaling gradients. Here, we describe and compare in detail from live imaging data the dynamics of protrusions in the surface ectoderm of chick and mouse embryos. In particular, we explore the differences between cells surrounding the lens placode and other regions of the head. RESULTS: Our results showed that protrusions from the eye region in mouse embryos are longer than those in chick embryos. In addition, protrusions from regions where there are no significant changes in tissue shape are longer and more stable than protrusions that surround the invaginating lens placode. We did not find a clear directionality to the protrusions in any region. Finally, we observed intercellular trafficking of membrane puncta in the protrusions of both embryos in all the regions analyzed. CONCLUSIONS: In summary, the results presented here suggest that the dynamics of these protrusions adapt to their surroundings and possibly contribute to intercellular communication in embryonic cephalic epithelia.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Dyn

Publication Date





249 - 262


chick embryo, lens development, mouse embryo, periplacodal cells, protrusion, surface ectoderm