The prospective fate of cells in the primitive streak was examined at early, mid and late stages of mouse gastrula development to determine the order of allocation of primitive streak cells to the mesoderm of the extraembryonic membranes and to the fetal tissues. At the early-streak stage, primitive streak cells contribute predominantly to tissues of the extraembryonic mesoderm as previously found. However, a surprising observation is that the erythropoietic precursors of the yolk sac emerge earlier than the bulk of the vitelline endothelium, which is formed continuously throughout gastrula development. This may suggest that the erythropoietic and the endothelial cell lineages may arise independently of one another. Furthermore, the extraembryonic mesoderm that is localized to the anterior and chorionic side of the yolk sac is recruited ahead of that destined for the posterior and amnionic side. For the mesodermal derivatives in the embryo, those destined for the rostral structures such as heart and forebrain mesoderm ingress through the primitive streak early during a narrow window of development. They are then followed by those for the rest of the cranial mesoderm and lastly the paraxial and lateral mesoderm of the trunk. Results of this study, which represent snapshots of the types of precursor cells in the primitive streak, have provided a better delineation of the timing of allocation of the various mesodermal lineages to specific compartments in the extraembryonic membranes and different locations in the embryonic anteroposterior axis.
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