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Assembly and remodeling of the fibrillar fibronectin extracellular matrix during gastrulation and neurulation in Xenopus laevis.


Fibronectin, a major component of the extracellular matrix is critical for processes of cell traction and cell motility. Whole-mount confocal imaging of the three-dimensional architecture of the extracellular matrix is used to describe dynamic assembly and remodeling of fibronectin fibrils during gastrulation and neurulation in the early frog embryo. As previously reported, fibrils first appear under the prospective ectoderm. We describe here the first evidence for regulated assembly of fibrils along the somitic mesoderm/endoderm boundary as well as at the notochord/somitic mesoderm boundary and clearing of fibrils from the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the notochord that occurs over the course of a few hours. As gastrulation proceeds, fibrils are restored to the dorsal surface of the notochord, where the notochord contacts the prospective floor plate. As the neural folds form, fibrils are again remodeled as deep neural plate cells move medially. The process of neural tube closure leaves a region of the ectoderm overlying the neural crest transiently bare of fibrils. Fibrils are assembled surrounding the dorsal surface of the neural tube as the neural tube lumen is restored.