International audienceDuring the early steps of head development, ectodermal patterning leads to the emergence of distinct non-neural and neural progenitor cells. The induction of the preplacodal ectoderm and the neural crest depends on well-studied signalling interactions between the non-neural ectoderm fated to become epidermis and the prospective neural plate. By contrast, the involvement of the non-neural ectoderm in the morphogenetic events leading to the development and patterning of the central nervous system has been studied less extensively. Here, we show that the removal of the rostral non-neural ectoderm abutting the prospective neural plate at late gastrulation stage leads, in mouse and chick embryos, to morphological defects in forebrain and craniofacial tissues. In particular, this ablation compromises the development of the telencephalon without affecting that of the diencephalon. Further investigations of ablated mouse embryos established that signalling centres crucial for forebrain regionalization, namely the axial mesendoderm and the anterior neural ridge, form normally. Moreover, changes in cell death or cell proliferation could not explain the specific loss of telencephalic tissue. Finally, we provide evidence that the removal of rostral tissues triggers misregulation of the BMP, WNT and FGF signalling pathways that may affect telencephalon development. This study opens new perspectives on the role of the neural/non-neural interface and reveals its functional relevance across higher vertebrates
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