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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Feb 20;115(8):1813-1818. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1711516115. Epub 2018 Feb 9.

Germ-layer commitment and axis formation in sea anemone embryonic cell aggregates.

Author information

1
Department for Molecular Evolution and Development, Center of Organismal Systems Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.
2
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, 119234 Moscow, Russia.
3
Department for Molecular Evolution and Development, Center of Organismal Systems Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria; grigory.genikhovich@univie.ac.at yulia_kraus@hydrozoa.org ulrich.technau@univie.ac.at.
4
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, 119234 Moscow, Russia; grigory.genikhovich@univie.ac.at yulia_kraus@hydrozoa.org ulrich.technau@univie.ac.at.
5
Koltzov Institute of Developmental Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119334 Moscow, Russia.

Abstract

Robust morphogenetic events are pivotal for animal embryogenesis. However, comparison of the modes of development of different members of a phylum suggests that the spectrum of developmental trajectories accessible for a species might be far broader than can be concluded from the observation of normal development. Here, by using a combination of microsurgery and transgenic reporter gene expression, we show that, facing a new developmental context, the aggregates of dissociated embryonic cells of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis take an alternative developmental trajectory. The self-organizing aggregates rely on Wnt signals produced by the cells of the original blastopore lip organizer to form body axes but employ morphogenetic events typical for normal development of distantly related cnidarians to re-establish the germ layers. The reaggregated cells show enormous plasticity including the capacity of the ectodermal cells to convert into endoderm. Our results suggest that new developmental trajectories may evolve relatively easily when highly plastic embryonic cells face new constraints.

KEYWORDS:

body axes; embryonic cell aggregates; germ layers; self-organization

PMID:
29440382
PMCID:
PMC5828576
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1711516115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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