Morphogenetic movements during cranial neural tube closure in the chick embryo and the effect of homocysteine

Madeleine R Brouns, Lydia A Afman, Bart A M Vanhauten, Johan W M Hekking, Eleonore S Köhler, Henny W M van Straaten

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In order to unravel morphogenetic mechanisms involved in neural tube closure, critical cell movements that are fundamental to remodelling of the cranial neural tube in the chick embryo were studied in vitro by quantitative time-lapse video microscopy. Two main directions of movements were observed. The earliest was directed medially; these cells invaginated into a median groove and were the main contributors to the initial neural tube closure. Once the median groove was completed, cells changed direction and moved anteriorly to contribute to the anterior neural plate and head fold. This plate developed into the anterior neuropore, which started to close from the 4-somite stage onwards by convergence of its neural folds. Posteriorly, from the initial closure site onwards, the posterior neuropore started to close almost instantaneously by convergence of its neural folds. Homocysteine is adversely involved in human neural tube closure defects. After application of a single dose of homocysteine to chick embryos, a closure delay at the initial closure site and at the neuropores, flattening of the head fold and neural tube, and a halt of cell movements was seen. A possible interference of Hcy with actin microfilaments is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalAnatomy and Embryology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Actin Cytoskeleton/metabolism
  • Actins/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement/physiology
  • Central Nervous System/embryology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Homocysteine/physiology
  • Methylation
  • Neural Tube Defects/physiopathology
  • Skull/embryology


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