Morin-Kensicki, E.M., Melançon, E., and Eisen, J.S. (2002) Segmental relationship between somites and vertebral column in zebrafish. Development (Cambridge, England). 129(16):3851-3860.
The segmental heritage of all vertebrates is evident in the character of the vertebral column. And yet, the extent to which direct translation of pattern from the somitic mesoderm and de novo cell and tissue interactions pattern the vertebral column remains a fundamental, unresolved issue. The elements of vertebral column pattern under debate include both segmental pattern and anteroposterior regional specificity . Understanding how vertebral segmentation and anteroposterior positional identity are patterned requires understanding vertebral column cellular and developmental biology. In this study, we characterized alignment of somites and vertebrae, distribution of individual sclerotome progeny along the anteroposterior axis and development of the axial skeleton in zebrafish. Our clonal analysis of zebrafish sclerotome shows that anterior and posterior somite domains are not lineage-restricted compartments with respect to distribution along the anteroposterior axis but support a 'leaky' resegmentation in development from somite to vertebral column. Alignment of somites with vertebrae suggests that the first two somites do not contribute to the vertebral column. Characterization of vertebral column development allowed examination of the relationship between vertebral formula and expression patterns of zebrafish Hox genes. Our results support co- localization of the anterior expression boundaries of zebrafish hoxc6 homologs with a cervical/thoracic transition and also suggest Hox- independent patterning of regionally specific posterior vertebrae.