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J Neurobiol. 1987 May;18(3):251-69.

Early differences between alternate n blast cells in leech embryo.


Segmentally iterated tissues of the mature leech comprise five distinct sets of definitive progeny that arise from chains of blast cells (m, n, o, p, and q bandlets) produced by five bilateral pairs of stem cells (M, N, O/P, O/P, and Q teloblasts). In each n and q bandlet, two blast cells are needed to generate one set of hemisegmental progeny, and two alternating classes of blast cells (nf and ns, qf and qs) can be distinguished after their first divisions. Furthermore, two distinct subsets of definitive N and Q progeny exist within each hemisegment. Here we first show that there is fixed correspondence between the class of blast cell and the subset of final progeny: ns cells contribute mainly anterior ganglionic neurons and epidermal cells; nf cells contribute mainly posterior ganglionic neurons, peripheral neurons and neuropil glia; qs cells contribute both ventral and dorsal progeny; and qf cells contribute only dorsal progeny. Second, ablation studies indicate that the two classes of n blast cells do not behave as an equivalence group in the germinal band. Finally, we show that the cycles giving rise to nf and ns blast cells differ. These data suggest that cellular interactions within the germinal band may not be critical in establishing the distinct nf and ns cell fates and that, conversely, differences between the two classes of n blast cells may be established at birth.

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