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Free Content Complete regulation of development throughout metamorphosis of sea urchin embryos devoid of macromeres

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The developmental potential of the animal cap (consisting of eight mesomeres) recombined with micromeres or of micromere progeny was examined in sea urchin embryos. The embryos derived from the animal cap recombined with a quartet of micromeres or their descendants developed into four-armed plutei. After feeding, the larvae developed into eight-armed plutei. The left-right polarity of the larvae, recognized by the location of the echinus rudiment, was essentially normal, regardless of the orientation of animal-vegetal polarity in micromeres combining with the animal cap. The larvae had sufficient potential to metamorphose into complete juvenile sea urchins with five-fold radial symmetry. Cell lineage tracing experiments showed that: (i) macromere progeny were not required for formation of the typical pattern of primary mesenchyme cells derived exclusively from large micromeres; (ii) the progeny of large micromeres did not contribute to cells in the endodermal gut with three compartments of normal function; (iii) the presumptive ectoderm had the potential to differentiate into endodermal gut and mesodermal secondary mesenchyme cells, from which pigment cells likely differentiated; and (iv) behavior of the progeny of small micromeres was the same as that in normal embryos through the gastrula stage. These results indicate that the mesomeres respecify their fate under the inductive influence of micromeres so perfectly that complete juvenile sea urchins are produced.

Keywords: left-right asymmetry; mesomere; metamorphosis; micromere; sea urchin

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences and Misaki Marine Biological Station, University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan.

Publication date: October 1, 1996


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