Somite development and regionalisation of the vertebral axial skeleton

Shannon A. Weldon, Andrea E. Münsterberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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A critical stage in the development of all vertebrate embryos is the generation of the body plan and its subsequent patterning and regionalisation along the main anterior-posterior axis. This includes the formation of the vertebral axial skeleton. Its organisation begins during early embryonic development with the periodic formation of paired blocks of mesoderm tissue called somites. Here, we review axial patterning of somites, with a focus on studies using amniote model systems – avian and mouse. We summarise the molecular and cellular mechanisms that generate paraxial mesoderm and review how the different anatomical regions of the vertebral column acquire their specific identity and thus shape the body plan. We also discuss the generation of organoids and embryo-like structures from embryonic stem cells, which provide insights regarding axis formation and promise to be useful for disease modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Cell & Developmental Biology
Early online date22 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Axial progenitors
  • Axis formation
  • Hox genes
  • Somite patterning
  • Trunk-like structures

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