, Volume 294, Issue 2, pp 289-295

The spatial and temporal expression of HNK-1 by myogenic and skeletogenic cells in the embryonic rat

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The existence of phenotypic differences within a population of cells provides evidence for discrete stages in cellular differentiation and/or identifies subsets of cells with unique functional properties. The monoclonal antibody HNK-1 has been widely shown to identify subpopulations of cells in the developing nervous system. In this paper we focus on the developmental expression of HNK-1 immunoreactivity by derivatives of somitic (paraxial) mesoderm. We show that between embryonic day 12 and 14 (E12–E14) the HNK-1 epitope is transiently expressed by postmitotic myotomal cells. In E14–E17 developing vertebral columns (which are derived from somitic sclerotomal cells), HNK-1 immunolabeling was expressed by subpopulations of skeletogenic cells, including perinotochordal cells associated with the forming annulus fibrosus and cells within or adjacent to the perichondrium. Chondrocytes within forming centra and vertebral arches did not exhibit HNK-1 immunoreactivity. These results, taken together, show that the expression of the HNK-1 epitope can be used to identify subsets of myogenic and skeletogenic cells both spatially and temporally in the developing rat.