Despite the common structure of vertebrates, the development of the vertebral column differs widely between teleosts and tetrapods in several respects, including the ossification of the centrum and the function of the notochord. In contrast to tetrapods, vertebral development in teleosts is not fully understood, particularly for large fish with highly ossified bones. We therefore examined the histology and gene expression profile of vertebral development in fugu, Takifugu rubripes, a model organism for genomic research. Ossification of the fugu centrum is carried out by outer osteoblasts expressing col1a1, col2a1, and sparc, and the growing centra completely divide the notochord into double cone-shaped segments that function as intercentral joints. In this process, the notochord basal cells produce a thick notochord sheath exhibiting Alcian-blue–reactive cartilaginous properties and composing the intercentral ligament in cooperation with the external ligament connective tissue. Synthesis of the matrix by the basal cells was ascertained by an in vitro test. Expression of twist2 indicates that this connective tissue is descended from the embryonic sclerotome. Notochord basal cells express sox9, ihhb, shh, and col2a1a, suggesting that the signaling system involved in chondrocyte proliferation and matrix production also functions in notochord cells for notochord sheath formation. We further found that the notochord expression of both ntla and shh is maintained in the fugu vertebral column, whereas it is turned off after embryogenesis in zebrafish. Thus, our results demonstrate that, in contrast to zebrafish, a dynamic morphogenesis and molecular network continues to function in fugu until the establishment of the adult vertebral column.
- Takifugu rubripes
- Vertebral column
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology