Ivanovitch, K., Cavodeassi, F., and Wilson, S.W. (2013) Precocious acquisition of neuroepithelial character in the eye field underlies the onset of eye morphogenesis. Developmental Cell. 27(3):293-305.
Using high-resolution live imaging in zebrafish, we show that presumptive eye cells acquire apicobasal polarity and adopt neuroepithelial character prior to other regions of the neural plate. Neuroepithelial organization is first apparent at the margin of the eye field, whereas cells at its core have mesenchymal morphology. These core cells subsequently intercalate between the marginal cells contributing to the bilateral expansion of the optic vesicles. During later evagination, optic vesicle cells shorten, drawing their apical surfaces laterally relative to the basal lamina, resulting in further laterally directed evagination. The early neuroepithelial organization of the eye field requires Laminin1, and ectopic Laminin1 can redirect the apicobasal orientation of eye field cells. Furthermore, disrupting cell polarity through combined abrogation of the polarity protein Pard6γb and Laminin1 severely compromises optic vesicle evagination. Our studies elucidate the cellular events underlying early eye morphogenesis and provide a framework for understanding epithelialization and complex tissue formation.