Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biol Cell. 1998 Nov;90(8):537-48.

Cell cycle transition in early embryonic development of Xenopus laevis.

Author information

  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This article reviews cell cycle changes that occur during midblastula transition (MBT) in Xenopus laevis based on research carried out in the authors' laboratory. Blastomeres dissociated from the animal cap of blastulae, as well as those in an intact embryo, divide synchronously with a constant cell cycle duration in vitro, up to the 12th cell cycle regardless of their cell sizes. During this synchronous cleavage, cell sizes of blastomeres become variable because of repeated unequal cleavage. After the 12th cell cycle blastomeres require contact with an appropriate protein substrate to continue cell division. When nucleocytoplasmic (N/C) ratios of blastomeres reach a critical value during the 13th cycle, their cell cycle durations lengthen in proportion to the reciprocal of cell surface areas, and cell divisions become asynchronous due to variations in cell sizes. The same changes occur in haploid blastomeres with a delay of one cell cycle. Thus, post-MBT cell cycle control becomes dependent not only on the N/C relation but also on cell surface activities of blastomeres. Unlike cell cycle durations of pre-MBT blastomeres, which show monomodal frequency distributions with a peak at about 30 min, those of post-MBT blastomeres show polymodal frequency distributions with peaks at multiples of about 30 min, suggesting 'quantisement' of the cell cycle. Thus, we hypothesised that MPF is produced periodically during its unit cycle with 30 min period, but it titrates, and is neutralized by, an inhibitor contained in the nucleus in a quantity proportional to the genome size; however, when all of the inhibitor has been titrated, excess MPF during the last cycle triggers mitosis. At MBT, cell cycle checkpoint mechanisms begin to operate. While the operation of S phase checkpoint to monitor DNA replication is initiated by N/C relation, the initiation of M phase checkpoint operation to monitor chromosome segregation at mitosis is regulated by an age-dependent mechanism.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk