Send to

Choose Destination
Dev Genes Evol. 1999 May;209(5):284-93.

The production and elimination of supernumerary blast cells in the leech embryo.

Author information

Physiology Department, Edinburgh University Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, UK.


Different species of leech vary greatly in body size but all have 32 body segments. It is unclear how the development of this precise number of segments is regulated, although it is known that the teloblasts of the early leech embryo initially produce more than the required numbers of segment founder cells (blast cells). We used fluorescent dextrans to show that the M teloblast of the Helobdella robusta embryo produces a variable number of additional (supernumerary) cells. These cells fail to enter the germinal band (which contains cells of all lineages and gives rise to the adult leech), but detach from its posterior end and disappear. Our observations suggest that some suffer an increase in membrane permeability while others fuse with the M teloblasts, but that they do not undergo apoptosis. The supernumerary cells of different lineages detach from the germinal band at different times, suggesting that detachment is not triggered by a global signal acting simultaneously on all lineages. We tested the hypothesis that the elimination of the supernumerary m blast cells results from a requirement of m blast cells for close interactions with cells of the other lineages for their survival, a condition that would not be achieved by the last-born m blast cells that fail to enter the germinal band. We cultured isolated M teloblasts and found that they do produce blast cells that themselves divide, indicating that cells of the M lineage can survive in the absence of any interactions with cells of the other lineages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center