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At gastrulation, a subpopulation of epiblast cells constitutes a transient posteriorly located structure called the primitive streak, where cells that undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition make up the mesoderm and endoderm lineages. Mouse embryo epiblast cells were labelled ubiquitously or in a mosaic fashion. Cell shape, packing, organization and division were recorded through live imaging during primitive streak formation. Posterior epiblast displays a higher frequency of rosettes, some of which associate with a central cell undergoing mitosis. Cells at the primitive streak, in particular delaminating cells, undergo mitosis more frequently than other epiblast cells. In pseudostratified epithelia, mitosis takes place at the apical side of the epithelium. However, mitosis is not restricted to the apical side of the epiblast, particularly on its posterior side. Non-apical mitosis occurs specifically in the streak even when ectopically located. Posterior non-apical mitosis results in one or two daughter cells leaving the epiblast layer. Cell rearrangement associated with mitotic cell rounding in posterior epiblast, in particular when non-apical, might thus facilitate cell ingression and transition to a mesenchymal phenotype.

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epithelial-mesenchymal transition, gastrulation, interkinetic nuclear movement, mitosis, rosette