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J Neurobiol. 1992 Apr;23(3):280-92.

Structure of the caudal neural tube in an ascidian larva: vestiges of its possible evolutionary origin from a ciliated band.

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Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543.


Ultrastructural analysis and differential immunocytochemical staining with two antitubulin monoclonal antibodies were used to reexamine the organization and development of the neural tube in the larva of an ascidian, Ciona intestinalis, in appraisal of a theory that the dorsal tubular nervous system of the chordates evolved from two halves of a ciliated band in an auricularia-like larva of the kind found in echinoderms and hemichordates. One of the antibodies stained cilia in the nervous system and elsewhere; the other reacted primarily with neuronal axons. The caudal neural tube consists of four rows of large ciliated ependymal-glial cells enclosing an axial neural canal into which their single cilia extend. Two ventrolateral nerve tracts, containing axons, arise in the posterior brain region and extend along the length of the caudal tube, partially surrounded by the ependymal cells. The nonnervous, ciliated, ependymal neural tube of the ascidian larva with its two associated nerve tracts survives as a primitive early condition that could result from a ciliated band transformation. Tissues in the distal-most part of the ascidian larval tail have cell lineage origins that indicate an evolutionary history different from those in the proximal majority of the tail. The ependymal cells in this presumed later addition to the tail are not ciliated, although all of the others in the caudal ependymal tube appear to be.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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