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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1986 Jun;94:83-93.

Replacement of posterior by anterior endoderm reduces sterility in embryos from inverted eggs of Xenopus laevis.


The genital ridges of Xenopus laevis tadpoles reared from eggs kept in an inverted position contain less than 40% of the number of primordial germ cells (PGCs) of controls (Cleine & Dixon, 1985). It has been suggested that this reduction is caused by the germ cells' ectopic position in the anterior endoderm of larvae from inverted eggs, from where they may be unable to migrate into the genital ridges (Cleine & Dixon, 1985). This hypothesis is tested here by interchanging anterior and posterior endodermal grafts between pairs of inverted embryos at the early tailbud stage. Replacement of anterior by posterior endoderm has no effect but replacement of posterior by anterior endoderm increases the number of PGCs in the genital ridges and significantly reduces the proportion of sterile embryos. In a control series, in which the same type of grafting was done with normal embryos, replacement of posterior by anterior endoderm reduced the number of germ cells to almost zero, but replacement of anterior by posterior endoderm nearly doubled it. These findings are explained in terms of the distribution of the germ cells in the endoderm at the time of grafting. The results firstly show that the position of the germ cells is crucial to successful migration and secondly they support the notion that germ plasm has a determinative role during early germ cell differentiation.

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