Controlling the initiation of cell migration plays a fundamental role in shaping the tissue during embryonic development. During gastrulation in zebrafish, some mesendoderm cells migrate inward to form the endoderm as the innermost germ layer along the yolk syncytial layer. However, how the initiation of inward migration is regulated is poorly understood. In this study, we performed light-sheet microscopy-based 3D single-cell tracking consisting of (a) whole-embryo time-lapse imaging with light-sheet microscopy and (b) three-dimensional single cell tracking in the zebrafish gastrula in which cells are marked with histone H2A-mCherry (nuclei) and the sox17:EGFP transgene (expressed in endoderm cells). We analyzed the correlation between the timing of cell internalization and cell division. Most cells that differentiated into endoderm cells began to internalize during the first half of the cell cycle, where the length of a cell cycle was defined by the period between two successive cell divisions. By contrast, the timing of other internalized cells was not correlated with a certain phase of the cell cycle. These results suggest the possibility that cell differentiation is associated with the relationship between cell cycle progression and the start of internalization. Moreover, the 3D single-cell tracking approach is useful for further investigating how cell migration is integrated with cell proliferation to shape tissues in zebrafish embryos.
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