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Development 2011 Jan 01;1382:237-43. doi: 10.1242/dev.054940.
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Small micromeres contribute to the germline in the sea urchin.

Yajima M , Wessel GM .

Many indirect developing animals create specialized multipotent cells in early development to construct the adult body and perhaps to hold the fate of the primordial germ cells. In sea urchin embryos, small micromeres formed at the fifth division appear to be such multipotent cells: they are relatively quiescent in embryos, but contribute significantly to the coelomic sacs of the larvae, from which the major tissues of the adult rudiment are derived. These cells appear to be regulated by a conserved gene set that includes the classic germline lineage genes vasa, nanos and piwi. In vivo lineage mapping of the cells awaits genetic manipulation of the lineage, but previous research has demonstrated that the germline is not specified at the fourth division because animals are fertile even when micromeres, the parent blastomeres of small micromeres, are deleted. Here, we have deleted small micromeres at the fifth division and have raised the resultant larvae to maturity. These embryos developed normally and did not overexpress Vasa, as did embryos from a micromere deletion, implying the compensatory gene regulatory network was not activated in small micromere-deleted embryos. Adults from control and micromere-deleted embryos developed gonads and visible gametes, whereas small micromere-deleted animals formed small gonads that lacked gametes. Quantitative PCR results indicate that small micromere-deleted animals produce background levels of germ cell products, but not specifically eggs or sperm. These results suggest that germline specification depends on the small micromeres, either directly as lineage products, or indirectly by signaling mechanisms emanating from the small micromeres or their descendants.

PubMed ID: 21177341
PMC ID: PMC3005600
Article link: Development

Genes referenced: ddx4 LOC100887844 LOC105439231 LOC115919910 LOC583082

References [+] :
Cameron, Lineage and fate of each blastomere of the eight-cell sea urchin embryo. 1987, Pubmed, Echinobase