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Dev Biol. 1988 Jul;128(1):198-206.

MHC class I antigens as surface markers of adult erythrocytes during the metamorphosis of Xenopus.

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  • 1Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland.


An alloantiserum produced against Xenopus MHC class I antigens has been used to distinguish different erythrocyte populations at metamorphosis. By analysis using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analyzer, tadpole (stage 55) and adult erythrocytes have distinct volume differences and tadpole cells have no MHC antigens on the cell surface. Both tadpole and adult erythrocytes express a "mature erythrocyte" antigen marker, recognized by its monoclonal antibody (F1F6). During metamorphosis, immature erythrocytes, at various stages of differentiation, which express adult levels of cell-surface MHC antigens by 12 days after tail resorption, are found in the bloodstream. These immature cells are biosynthetically active, produce adult hemoglobin, and mature by 60 days after the completion of metamorphosis. Percoll gradient-density fractionation has shown that all of the cells in the new erythrocyte series express adult levels of MHC antigens but there is only a gradual increase in the amount of "mature erythrocyte" antigen. Tadpole erythrocytes, which are biosynthetically active during larval stages, produce small amounts of surface MHC antigens before the metamorphic climax and then become metabolically inactive. They are completely cleared from the circulation by 60 days after metamorphosis. Erythrocytes from tadpoles arrested in their development for long periods of time express intermediate levels of MHC antigens, suggesting a "leaky" expression of these molecules in the tadpole cells. The most abundant erythrocyte cell-surface proteins from tadpoles and adults, as judged by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, are very different.

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