Background: In avian species, primordial germ cells (PGCs) migrate to the gonadal primordium through the vascular system. Because this mode of migration is reminiscent of cancer metastasis, it would be useful to elucidate the mechanisms underlying PGC migration via the bloodstream. Here, we sought to determine when, where, and how PGCs enter the vascular network by double visualization of PGCs and endothelial cells (ECs) in tie1:H2B-eYFP transgenic quails. Results: In the left and right lateral germinal crescent regions corresponding to the anterior-most area vasculosa, more than 60% of PGCs were enveloped by differentiating ECs forming blood islands prior to vascular network formation. Cell morphology analysis suggested that the PGC-EC interaction was instructed by differentiating ECs. At a later developmental stage, ECs anastomosed to form a vascular network with a lumen that retained PGCs within it. As a consequence, many PGCs localized within the luminal space of the mature vascular network at later stages. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that the major type of avian PGC translocation into vascular tissue is not a typical intravasation, as performed by types of metastatic cancer cells, but rather a passive translocation (envelopment) mediated by differentiating ECs during early vasculogenesis.
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