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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1976 Aug;36(1):197-207.

Observations on the migration and proliferation of gonocytes in Xenopus laevis.


The process of primordial germ cell formation in the normal course of development of Xenopus laevis was examined with a light microscope on paraffin and Epon sections of embryos or tadpoles, extending over the period from the gastrula to the feeding tadpole stage. Positional changes of gonocytes with development were nearly the same as those reported on the same species by Blackler (1958) and Whitington & Dixon (1975). The following points were newly demonstrated. Gonocytes which have been located in a deep endodermal position till mid tail-bud stage come to be located in a rather peripheral region of the endoderm cell mass at stage 31 (late tail-bud), suggesting that the initial step of migration of the gonocytes towards the future genital ridge has already begun at this stage. Gonocytes at stages 33/34 and 35/36 were observed in a more dorsal part of the endoderm than at stage 31. Gonocytes which seem to have begun their migration are roundish in external shape and have a large intercellular space around them. At stage 40 gonocytes were located in the dorsal endodermal crest, and at stage 41 gonocytes were found with cell bodies extending over both the dorsal endoderm crest and the dorsal mesentery, indicating that the separation of the gonocytes from the endoderm was in progress at this stage. The present results seem to indicate that gonocytes migrate not passively but actively from the deep endodermal position to the genital ridge, passing through the dorsal mesentery. Counting the number of gonocytes at successive stages of development revealed that gonocytes proliferated exponentially throughout the developmental stages from gastrula to tadpole.

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