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How the avian model has pioneered the field of hematopoietic development

Experimental Hematology
DOI: 10.1016/j.exphem.2014.05.009
  • Biology


The chicken embryo has a long history as a key model in developmental biology. Because of its distinctive developmental characteristics, it has contributed to major breakthroughs in the field of hematopoiesis. Among these, the discovery of B lymphocytes and the three rounds of thymus colonization; the embryonic origin of hematopoietic stem cells and the traffic between different hematopoietic organs; and the existence of two distinct endothelial cell lineages one angioblastic, restricted to endothelial cell production, and another, hemangioblastic, able to produce both endothelial and hematopoietic cells, should be cited. The avian model has also contributed to substantiate the endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition associated with aortic hematopoiesis and the existence of the allantois as a hematopoietic organ. Because the immune system develops relatively late in aves, the avian embryo is used to probe the tissue-forming potential of mouse tissues through mouse-into-chicken chimeras, providing insights into early mouse development by circumventing the lethality associated with some genetic strains. Finally, the avian embryo can be used to investigate the differentiation potential of human ES cells in the context of a whole organism. The combinations of classic approaches with the development of powerful genetic tools make the avian embryo a great and versatile model.

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