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Mesothelium is the surface layer of all coelomic organs and is crucial for the generation of their vasculature. Still, our understanding of the genesis of this essential cell type is restricted to the heart where a localized exogenous population of cells, the proepicardium, migrates to and envelops the myocardium supplying mesothelial, vascular and stromal cell lineages. Currently it is not known whether this pattern of development is specific to the heart or applies broadly to other coelomic organs. Using two independent long-term lineage-tracing studies, we demonstrate that mesothelial progenitors of the intestine are intrinsic to the gut tube anlage. Furthermore, a novel chick-quail chimera model of gut morphogenesis reveals these mesothelial progenitors are broadly distributed throughout the gut primordium and are not derived from a localized and exogenous proepicardium-like source of cells. These data demonstrate an intrinsic origin of mesothelial cells to a coelomic organ and provide a novel mechanism for the generation of mesothelial cells.
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