Cell Recognition in Embryonic Morphogenesis and the Problem of Neuronal Specificities

  • A. A. Moscona
Part of the Current Topics in Neurobiology book series (CTNB)


Embryonic morphogenesis depends on the aggregation and organization of individual cells and cell groups into characteristic multicellular patterns which give rise to the definitive tissues and organs. During the early development of the nervous system, many of its precursor cells emigrate from their sites of origin toward their final locations; there, they associate with similar or other cell types into characteristic patterns and eventually become functionally linked. The experimental facts strongly suggest that the emergence in the embryo of the complex organization of the nervous system depends on cell-cell recognition or cellular affinities, i.e., on the ability of the cells to distinguish, through contact, one kind from another, and to display selectivities in forming morphogenetic associations. This capacity arises and evolves in the cells with their progressive differentiation. We assume that, as the various cell lines and sublines arise in the embryo, cell surfaces become specified and encoded with molecular “labels” of increasing subtlety and that these contribute to the mechanisms which mediate cell recognition and selective cell adhesion. There are excellent indications from histological and experimental studies on neurological mutants of mice that failure in the mechanisms of cell recognition prevents cells from becoming correctly organized and may lead to defective morphogenesis in the affected parts of the nervous system (Sidman, 1974).


Embryonic Cell Retina Cell Cell Recognition Neural Retina Sponge Cell 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. A. Moscona
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Biology and Pathology, and the Committee on Developmental BiologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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