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Dev Genes Evol. 2001 May;211(5):252-6.

Changes in gelsolin expression during ascidian metamorphosis.

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Biomolecular Engineering Department, National Institute of Bioscience and Human Technology, AIST, Higashi 1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan.


Gelsolin is an actin regulatory protein that is expressed in a wide variety of tissues and is especially abundant in muscle and blood cells. The role of gelsolin during structural reorganization of the body, such as during metamorphosis or regeneration, is poorly understood. We analyzed changes in gelsolin expression during ascidian embryogenesis and metamorphosis using nucleic acid probes and a monoclonal antibody (AS23) specific for ascidian gelsolin; our results indicated that gelsolin is maternally provided and that its de novo gene transcription is initiated during the neurula stage. In the larva, gelsolin was detectable in specific types of nerve cells, i.e. the adhesive papillae, motor neurons and epidermal sensory neurons. During metamorphosis, the expression of gelsolin changes markedly: the expression is suppressed in nerve tissues after tail resorption but is induced in mesodermal tissues. Gelsolin accumulated in mesenchyme cells until the onset of tail resorption, and following tail resorption, these cells migrated to the tunic and differentiated into tunic cells with many fine processes. Migration of the mesenchyme cells into the tunic was completely inhibited by treatment with cytochalasin B. Gelsolin was colocalized with actin in tunic cells, suggesting that it is involved in the rearrangement of actin filaments during cell locomotion or morphogenesis.

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