From Embryology
Revision as of 23:32, 3 June 2019 by Z8600021 (talk | contribs)
Embryology - 21 Oct 2019    Facebook link Pinterest link Twitter link  Expand to Translate  
Google Translate - select your language from the list shown below (this will open a new external page)

العربية | català | 中文 | 中國傳統的 | français | Deutsche | עִברִית | हिंदी | bahasa Indonesia | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | မြန်မာ | Pilipino | Polskie | português | ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਦੇ | Română | русский | Español | Swahili | Svensk | ไทย | Türkçe | اردو | ייִדיש | Tiếng Việt    These external translations are automated and may not be accurate. (More? About Translations)


The trilaminar embryo

The mesoderm forms the middle layer of the early trilaminar embryo germ layers (ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm) formed by gastrulation. The segmentation of the initial mesoderm into somites, and their regular addition, is often used to stage embryonic development (23 somite embryo).

This middle germ layer forms connective tissues and muscle throughout the body, with the exception of in the head region where some of these structures have a neural crest (ectoderm) origin.

  • connective tissues - cartilage, bone, blood, blood vessel endothelium, dermis, etc.
  • muscle - cardiac, skeletal, smooth.

Students often mix-up the terms mesoderm (middle layer) with mesenchyme (embryonic connective tissue). It is true that mesoderm initially does have a mesenchymal cellular organisation, but can also form a range of epithelial structures (surrounding somites, mesothelium lining of body cavities).

Mesoderm Links: endoderm | mesoderm | ectoderm | Lecture - Mesoderm | Lecture - Musculoskeletal | 2016 Lecture | notochord | renal | Notochord Movie | somitogenesis | musculoskeletal | cartilage | bone | sonic hedgehog | Category:Mesoderm
Historic Embryology  
Historic Disclaimer - information about historic embryology pages 
Mark Hill.jpg
Pages where the terms "Historic Textbook" and "Historic Embryology" appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms and interpretations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)

Historic Papers: 1883 Mesoderm | 1910 Chick Somites | 1933 | 1935 Rabbit Somites

Historic Textbooks: 1892 Primitive Segments | 1907 Somites | 1910 Skeleton | 1914 Somite | 1920 Chick Mesoderm | 1921 Connective Tissue | 1951 Frog Mesoderm

Some Recent Findings

Mesenchymal cells of the developing limb bud possess long and highly dynamic cytoplasmic extensions.[1]
  • BMP and FGF signaling interact to pattern mesoderm by controlling basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor activity[2] "The mesodermal germ layer is patterned into mediolateral subtypes by signaling factors including BMP and FGF. How these pathways are integrated to induce specific mediolateral cell fates is not well understood. We used mesoderm derived from post-gastrulation neuromesodermal progenitors (NMPs), which undergo a binary mediolateral patterning decision, as a simplified model to understand how FGF acts together with BMP to impart mediolateral fate. Using zebrafish and mouse NMPs, we identify an evolutionarily conserved mechanism of BMP and FGF mediated mediolateral mesodermal patterning that occurs through modulation of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor activity. BMP imparts lateral fate through induction of Id helix loop helix (HLH) proteins, which antagonize bHLH transcription factors, induced by FGF signaling, that specify medial fate. We extend our analysis of zebrafish development to show that bHLH activity is responsible for the mediolateral patterning of the entire mesodermal germ layer."
  • BRACHYURY directs histone acetylation to target loci during mesoderm development[3] "T-box transcription factors play essential roles in multiple aspects of vertebrate development. Here, we show that cooperative function of BRACHYURY (T) with histone-modifying enzymes is essential for mouse embryogenesis. A single point mutation (TY88A) results in decreased histone 3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac) at T target sites, including the T locus, suggesting that T autoregulates the maintenance of its expression and functions by recruiting permissive chromatin modifications to putative enhancers during mesoderm specification. Our data indicate that T mediates H3K27ac recruitment through a physical interaction with p300. In addition, we determine that T plays a prominent role in the specification of hematopoietic and endothelial cell types. Hematopoietic and endothelial gene expression programs are disrupted in TY88A mutant embryos, leading to a defect in the differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors. We show that this role of T is mediated, at least in part, through activation of a distal Lmo2 enhancer." blood
More recent papers  
Mark Hill.jpg
PubMed logo.gif

This table allows an automated computer search of the external PubMed database using the listed "Search term" text link.

  • This search now requires a manual link as the original PubMed extension has been disabled.
  • The displayed list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
  • References also appear on this list based upon the date of the actual page viewing.

References listed on the rest of the content page and the associated discussion page (listed under the publication year sub-headings) do include some editorial selection based upon both relevance and availability.

More? References | Discussion Page | Journal Searches | 2019 References

Search term: Mesoderm Development | Extra-embryonic Mesoderm Development | Axial Mesoderm | Paraxial Mesoderm | Intermediate Mesoderm | Splanchnic Mesoderm | Somatic Mesoderm |Mesoderm Images

Older papers  
These papers originally appeared in the Some Recent Findings table, but as that list grew in length have now been shuffled down to this collapsible table.

See also the Discussion Page for other references listed by year and References on this current page.

  • STRIP1, a core component of STRIPAK complexes, is essential for normal mesoderm migration in the mouse embryo[4] "Regulated mesoderm migration is necessary for the proper morphogenesis and organ formation during embryonic development. Cell migration and its dependence on the cytoskeleton and signaling machines have been studied extensively in cultured cells; in contrast, remarkably little is known about the mechanisms that regulate mesoderm cell migration in vivo. Here, we report the identification and characterization of a mouse mutation in striatin-interacting protein 1 (Strip1) that disrupts migration of the mesoderm after the gastrulation epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). STRIP1 is a core component of the biochemically defined mammalian striatin-interacting phosphatases and kinase (STRIPAK) complexes that appear to act through regulation of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), but their functions in mammals in vivo have not been examined. Strip1-null mutants arrest development at midgestation with profound disruptions in the organization of the mesoderm and its derivatives, including a complete failure of the anterior extension of axial mesoderm. Analysis of cultured mesoderm explants and mouse embryonic fibroblasts from null mutants shows that the mesoderm migration defect is correlated with decreased cell spreading, abnormal focal adhesions, changes in the organization of the actin cytoskeleton, and decreased velocity of cell migration. The results show that STRIPAK complexes are essential for cell migration and tissue morphogenesis in vivo." (More? cell migration | NCBI Gene - STRIP1)
  • An atlas of transcriptional, chromatin accessibility, and surface marker changes in human mesoderm development[5] "Mesoderm is the developmental precursor to myriad human tissues including bone, heart, and skeletal muscle. Unravelling the molecular events through which these lineages become diversified from one another is integral to developmental biology and understanding changes in cellular fate. To this end, we developed an in vitro system to differentiate human pluripotent stem cells through primitive streak intermediates into paraxial mesoderm and its derivatives (somites, sclerotome, dermomyotome) and separately, into lateral mesoderm and its derivatives (cardiac mesoderm)."
  • A role for Vg1/Nodal signaling in specification of the intermediate mesoderm[6] "The intermediate mesoderm (IM) is the embryonic source of all kidney tissue in vertebrates. The factors that regulate the formation of the IM are not yet well understood. Through investigations in the chick embryo, the current study identifies and characterizes Vg1/Nodal signaling (henceforth referred to as 'Nodal-like signaling') as a novel regulator of IM formation. ... We postulate that Nodal-like signaling regulates IM formation by modulating the IM-inducing effects of BMP signaling." Renal System Development
  • Signaling gradients during paraxial mesoderm development[7] "These studies indicate that high levels of Wnt and FGF signaling are required for the segmentation clock activity. Furthermore, we discuss how these signaling gradients act in a dose-dependent manner in the progenitors of the paraxial mesoderm, partly by regulating cell movements during gastrulation. Finally, links between the process of axial specification of vertebral segments and Hox gene expression are discussed."
  • Transcriptional profiling of the nucleus pulposus: say yes to notochord[8] "This editorial addresses the debate concerning the origin of adult nucleus pulposus cells in the light of profiling studies by Minogue and colleagues. In their report of several marker genes that distinguish nucleus pulposus cells from other related cell types, the authors provide novel insights into the notochordal nature of the former. Together with recently published work, their work lends support to the view that all cells present within the nucleus pulposus are derived from the notochord. Hence, the choice of an animal model for disc research should be based on considerations other than the cell loss and replacement by non-notochordal cells."


The nested tables below show an overview of the different mesoderm-derived tissues (links go to topic pages).
intervertebral disc nucleus pulposis
unsegmented paraxial  
head mesoderm
segmented paraxial  
axial skeleton
vertebral body intervertebral disc
renal genital
lateral plate
body wall connective tissue
intra-embryonic coelom  
pericardial cavity pleural cavity peritoneal cavity
splanchnic mesoderm
heart blood vessels gastrointestinal tract connective tissue gastrointestinal tract smooth muscle respiratory connective tissue
placental membranes
placental villi
amnion chorion yolk sac villi connective tissue villi blood vessels
Overview: Ectoderm | Mesoderm | Endoderm Layers: ectoderm | mesoderm | endoderm

Hierarchical View  
mesoderm - (hierarchical view)
  1. embryonic mesoderm
    1. axial
      1. notochord
        1. axial skeleton - nucleus pulpous
    2. paraxial
      1. unsegmented paraxial
      2. segmented paraxial somites
        1. sclerotome
          1. syndetome - tendon
          2. axial skeleton - vertebral body, intervertebral disc
        2. dermomyotome
          1. dermis - integumentary dermis, hypodermis
          2. myotome skeletal muscle
    3. intermediate
      1. renal
      2. genital
    4. lateral plate
      1. somatic
      2. intraembryonic coelom
        1. pericardial
        2. pleural
        3. peritoneal
      3. splanchnic mesoderm
  2. extra-embryonic mesoderm
    1. placental membranes
      1. amnion, chorion, yolk sac
    2. placental villi
      1. villi connective tissue, villi blood vessels
Germ Layers: ectoderm | mesoderm | endoderm

Mesoderm Movies

Mesoderm 001 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Week 3 Mesoderm
Page | Play
Notochord 01 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Week 3 Notochord
Page | Play
Notochord 02 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Week 3 Notochord
Page | Play
Vertebra 003 icon.jpg
Page | Play
Somite 001 icon.jpg
Page | Play
Mesoderm migration movie 1 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Mesoderm Move
Page | Play
Presomitic mesoderm movie 3 icon.jpg
 ‎‎Presomite Mesod
Page | Play
Somitogenesis 01 icon.jpg
Page | Play

Mesoderm Formation during Gastrulation

Human embryo (stage 10) mesoderm


Links: gastrulation


Notochord secreting sonic hedgehog, shown in white

Mesoderm cartoon.gif


Somite cartoon5.png

Somite patterning

Extra-embryonic Mesoderm

The origin of extra-embryonic mesoderm (EEM) has been extensively discussed in the literature. This mesoderm lies outside the embryo, associated with fetal membrane and placenta development. This mesoderm formed at gastrulation along with the embryonic mesoderm from the proximal side of the primitive streak. A recent study in mouse, has shown that the primitive streak absence and excessive epiblast Nodal activity in pre-gastrulation stage, but not in the primitive streak cells during gastrulation, disrupts extraembryonic mesoderm development. [9]

Links: placenta | placental membranes

Molecular Factors


  1. Sanders TA, Llagostera E & Barna M. (2013). Specialized filopodia direct long-range transport of SHH during vertebrate tissue patterning. Nature , 497, 628-32. PMID: 23624372 DOI.
  2. Row RH, Pegg A, Kinney B, Farr GH, Maves L, Lowell S, Wilson V & Martin BL. (2018). BMP and FGF signaling interact to pattern mesoderm by controlling basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor activity. Elife , 7, . PMID: 29877796 DOI.
  3. Beisaw A, Tsaytler P, Koch F, Schmitz SU, Melissari MT, Senft AD, Wittler L, Pennimpede T, Macura K, Herrmann BG & Grote P. (2018). BRACHYURY directs histone acetylation to target loci during mesoderm development. EMBO Rep. , 19, 118-134. PMID: 29141987 DOI.
  4. Bazzi H, Soroka E, Alcorn HL & Anderson KV. (2017). STRIP1, a core component of STRIPAK complexes, is essential for normal mesoderm migration in the mouse embryo. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. , 114, E10928-E10936. PMID: 29203676 DOI.
  5. Koh PW, Sinha R, Barkal AA, Morganti RM, Chen A, Weissman IL, Ang LT, Kundaje A & Loh KM. (2016). An atlas of transcriptional, chromatin accessibility, and surface marker changes in human mesoderm development. Sci Data , 3, 160109. PMID: 27996962 DOI.
  6. Fleming BM, Yelin R, James RG & Schultheiss TM. (2013). A role for Vg1/Nodal signaling in specification of the intermediate mesoderm. Development , 140, 1819-29. PMID: 23533180 DOI.
  7. Aulehla A & Pourquié O. (2010). Signaling gradients during paraxial mesoderm development. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol , 2, a000869. PMID: 20182616 DOI.
  8. Shapiro IM & Risbud MV. (2010). Transcriptional profiling of the nucleus pulposus: say yes to notochord. Arthritis Res. Ther. , 12, 117. PMID: 20497604 DOI.
  9. Jin JZ, Zhu Y, Warner D & Ding J. (2016). Analysis of extraembryonic mesodermal structure formation in the absence of morphological primitive streak. Dev. Growth Differ. , 58, 522-9. PMID: 27273137 DOI.


Risbud MV, Schaer TP & Shapiro IM. (2010). Toward an understanding of the role of notochordal cells in the adult intervertebral disc: from discord to accord. Dev. Dyn. , 239, 2141-8. PMID: 20568241 DOI.

Burke AC. (2007). Development and evolution of the vertebrate mesoderm. Dev. Dyn. , 236, 2369-70. PMID: 17705304 DOI.


Martin BL & Kimelman D. (2010). Brachyury establishes the embryonic mesodermal progenitor niche. Genes Dev. , 24, 2778-83. PMID: 21159819 DOI.

Korecki CL, Taboas JM, Tuan RS & Iatridis JC. (2010). Notochordal cell conditioned medium stimulates mesenchymal stem cell differentiation toward a young nucleus pulposus phenotype. Stem Cell Res Ther , 1, 18. PMID: 20565707 DOI.

Trainor PA, Tan SS & Tam PP. (1994). Cranial paraxial mesoderm: regionalisation of cell fate and impact on craniofacial development in mouse embryos. Development , 120, 2397-408. PMID: 7956820


Florian J. (1933). The Early Development of Man, with Special Reference to the Development of the Mesoderm and Cloacal Membrane. J. Anat. , 67, 263-76. PMID: 17104422

Search PubMed

Search NLM Online Textbooks: "Mesoderm" : Developmental Biology | The Cell- A molecular Approach | Molecular Biology of the Cell | Endocrinology

Search Pubmed: Mesoderm | Notochord

External Links

External Links Notice - The dynamic nature of the internet may mean that some of these listed links may no longer function. If the link no longer works search the web with the link text or name. Links to any external commercial sites are provided for information purposes only and should never be considered an endorsement. UNSW Embryology is provided as an educational resource with no clinical information or commercial affiliation.

Take the Quiz


Mesenchyme refers to the middle layer of the trilaminar embryo



The intraembryonic coelom forms within :

lateral plate
neural tube
intermediate mesoderm


All paraxial mesoderm segments into somites.



Somites are developmental structures that contribute the following adult structures :

vertebra, notochord, dermis, skeletal muscle
vertebra, intervertebral discs, dermis, skeletal muscle
kidney, body wall connective tissue, sensory ganglia
kidney, gastrointestinal tract smooth muscle, mesentry

Glossary Links

Glossary: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Numbers | Symbols | Term Link

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2019, October 21) Embryology Mesoderm. Retrieved from

What Links Here?
© Dr Mark Hill 2019, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G