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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2006 Nov;145(3):376-82. Epub 2006 Aug 4.

Colony specificity and chemotaxis in the compound ascidian Botryllus schlosseri.

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University of Padova, Department of Biology, Via U. Bassi 58/B, 35100 Padova, Italy.


We re-investigated the behavior of hemocytes during the non-fusion (rejection) reaction between genetically incompatible colonies of the ascidian Botryllus schlosseri. In the course of the reaction, hemocytes - mainly morula cells - crowd inside the blind ends of marginal vascular vessels (known as ampullae) of the colonial leading edge (LE) facing the foreign colony which suggests the occurrence of chemotactic attraction of circulating hemocytes towards the ampullar lumen. Then, cells migrate, through the ampullar tips, into the partially fused tunics and contribute to the formation of the necrotic spots along the contact borders which characterize the reaction. Studies on histological sections clearly indicate that, although morula cell concentration is always higher in ampullae of the LE than in those of the lateral (L) part of the colony, their frequency significantly increases in LE ampullae of rejecting colonies with respect to LE ampullae of both fusing and isolated colonies. In addition, in vitro chemotaxis experiments demonstrated that blood plasma from incompatible colonies can stimulate morula cell migration through polycarbonate filters and this passage is inhibited by antibodies raised against mammalian pro-inflammatory cytokines. The possible nature and role of molecules recognized by anti-cytokine antibodies in hemocyte migration are discussed.

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