The cell substratum attachment (CSAT) antibody recognizes a 140-kD cell surface receptor complex involved in adhesion to fibronectin (FN) and laminin (LM) (Horwitz, A., K. Duggan, R. Greggs, C. Decker, and C. Buck, 1985, J. Cell Biol., 101:2134-2144). Here, we describe the distribution of the CSAT antigen along with FN and LM in the early avian embryo. At the light microscopic level, the staining patterns for the CSAT receptor and the extracellular matrix molecules to which it binds were largely codistributed. The CSAT antigen was observed on numerous tissues during gastrulation, neurulation, and neural crest migration: for example, the surface of neural crest cells and the basal surface of epithelial tissues such as the ectoderm, neural tube, notochord, and dermomyotome. FN and LM immunoreactivity was observed in the basement membranes surrounding many of these epithelial tissues, as well as around the otic and optic vesicles. In addition, the pathways followed by cranial neural crest cells were lined with FN and LM. In the trunk region, FN and LM were observed surrounding a subpopulation of neural crest cells. However, neither molecule exhibited the selective distribution pattern necessary for a guiding role in trunk neural crest migration. The levels of CSAT, FN, and LM are dynamic in the embryo, perhaps reflecting that the balance of surface-substratum adhesions contributes to initiation, migration, and localization of some neural crest cell populations.

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