Abstract: The formation of the neural tube is crucial for the proper development of the brain and spinal cord and its failure results in congenital disorder known as neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are estimated to affect 100,000 births world wide each year. Several known genetic mutations are associated with NTDs but the physical mechanisms by which they act or their effects on neural tube morphogenesis remain unclear. The neural tube begins as a flat sheet of epithelial cells on the surface of the embryo called the neural plate that undergoes a series of shape changes that turn it into an elongated tubular structure, internalized within the embryo. These coordinated tissue level deformations are orchestrated by integrated behaviors of cells within the embryo. Our study aimed to identify the cell behaviors accompanying neural plate shaping, the first step of neural tube formation, in the aquatic frog, Xenopus laevis, embryo.
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