In the trunk region of avian embryos, neural crest cells migrate along two pathways: dorsally just under the ectoderm, and ventrally between the neural tube and the somites. Previous work from this laboratory has shown that uncoated latex beads are able to translocate along the ventral neural crest pathway after injection into young embryos; however, beads coated with fibronectin are restricted from the ventral route ( Bronner -Fraser, M.E., 1982, Dev. Biol., 91: 50-63). Here, we extend these observations to determine the effects of other macromolecules on bead distribution. The data show that laminin-coated beads, like fibronectin-coated beads, are restricted from the ventral pathway. In contrast, beads coated with type I collagen translocate ventrally after injection. Because macromolecules have characteristic charge properties, changes in surface charge caused by coating the beads may confound interpretation of the results. Electrostatic effects on bead movement were examined by coating the latex beads with polyamino acids in order to predictably alter the initial surface charge. The surface charge before injection was measured for beads coated with amino acid polymers or with various biologically important macromolecules; the subsequent translocation ability of these beads was then monitored in the embryo. Polylysine-coated beads (positively charged) were restricted from the ventral pathway as were fibronectin and laminin-coated beads, even though fibronectin and laminin beads were both negatively charged. In contrast, polytyrosine -coated beads ( neutrally charged) translocated ventrally as did negatively charged collagen-coated or uncoated beads. The results demonstrate that no correlation exists between the charge properties on the latex bead surface and their subsequent ability to translocate along the ventral pathway. Therefore, an adhesion mechanism independent of surface charge effects must explain the restriction or translocation of latex beads on a neural crest pathway.

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