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Novel Structural Elements Identified during Tail Resorption in Xenopus laevis Metamorphosis: Lessons from Tailed Frogs

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When the tail of the Xenopus laevis tadpole resorbs at the end of metamorphosis, various cell types, including muscle, fibroblasts, skin, and spinal cord, are lost at about the same time. However, feeding frogs with tails can be produced by inhibiting thyroid hormone production at the climax of metamorphosis with the goitrogen methimazole. These tails lose their fast muscle preferentially, showing that the different cell types of the tail have different fates and confirming that more than one cell death program is involved in tail resorption. Both normal and methimazole tails contain “cords,” novel structures that consist of two dorsal and two ventral parallel rows of slow muscle bundles joined by collagen fibers that run the length of the tail. The cords persist until the very end of tail resorption, being the last structure to dissolve. When thyroid hormone induces expression of proteolytic enzymes in the notochord sheath, the notochord, a structural rod that runs the length of the tail, begins to buckle, demonstrating that the tail is under tension. When sections of the tail that contain cords are surgically separated from the notochord, they contract in vitro, suggesting that the cords contribute to the tension that augments tail resorption.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, 25 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3G5, Canada 2: Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 115 West University Parkway, Baltimore, Maryland, 21210

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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