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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1981 Dec;66:1-26.

Comparative analysis of amphibian somite morphogenesis: cell rearrangement patterns during rosette formation and myoblast fusion.


Detailed SEM observations of the changes in cellular morphology, arrangements, and contacts that occur during the process of somite formation were made in two species of urodele amphibians, Ambystoma mexicanum and Pleurodeles waltlii, and one species of anuran amphibian, Rana sphenocephala. After fixation, embryos were fractured transversely, horizontally, and parasagittally, and the intrasomitic cellular arrangement pattern was examined with the SEM. It was found that Ambystoma and Pleurodeles embryos followed exactly the same development sequence in rosette formation and myoblast fusion. Rana somites did not, however, appear to form rosettes. Those myotomal cells underwent fusion immediately after a few segmentations occurred. Patterns of cellular rearrangement were also described during urodele rosette formation at the time of somite segmentation and during myoblast fusion. Extensive changes in cell shape and orientation appeared to occur during those processes. When cells changed their orientation, they often exhibited a triangular configuration. Probable roles of these triangular-shaped cells in rosette formation and myoblast fusion are discussed. During the initial period of myoblast or myotomal cell fusion, cells first send out specialized cell processes and then establish their cell-cell contacts. The establishment of such contacts eventually leads to tight membrane appositions and fusion. Since myoblast fusion appeared to occur between two cells which were tandemly arranged in a rosette, the origin of multi-nuclearity in the fused cells is discussed. Finally, comparative analyses of the pattern of somite formation and subsequent muscle development were made between different species of amphibians. The possibility is discussed that patterns of somitogenesis may provide useful indicators for determining how different families of amphibians evolved.

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