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Dev Genes Evol. 2000 Feb;210(2):55-63.

Developmental fates of larval tissues after metamorphosis in the ascidian, Halocynthia roretzi. II. Origin of endodermal tissues of the juvenile.

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  • 1Department of Life Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8501, Japan.


Cell lineages during ascidian embryogenesis are invariant. Developmental fates of larval mesodermal cells after metamorphosis are also invariant with regard to cell type of descendants. The present study traced developmental fates of larval endodermal cells after metamorphosis in Halocynthia roretzi by labeling each endodermal precursor blastomere of larval endoderm. Larval endodermal cells gave rise to various endodermal organs of juveniles: endostyle, branchial sac, peribranchial epithelium, digestive organs, peripharyngeal band, and dorsal tubercle. The boundaries between clones descended from early blastomeres did not correspond to the boundaries between adult endodermal organs. Although there is a regular projection from cleavage stage and larval stage to juvenile stage, this varies to some extent between individuals. This indicates that ascidian development is not entirely deterministic. We composed a fate map of adult endodermal organs in larval endoderm based on a statistical analysis of many individual cases. Interestingly, the topographic position of each prospective region in the fate map was similar to that of the adult organ, indicating that marked rearrangement of the positions of endodermal cells does not occur during metamorphosis. These findings suggest that fate specification in endoderm cells during metamorphosis is likely to be a position-dependent rather than a deterministic and lineage-based process.

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