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Evol Dev 2007 Jan 01;93:257-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-142X.2007.00158.x.
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Evolutionary modification of mesenchyme cells in sand dollars in the transition from indirect to direct development.

Peronella japonica, an intermediate type of direct-developing sand dollar, forms an abbreviated pluteus, followed by metamorphosis within 3 days without feeding. In this species, ingression of mesenchyme cells starts before hatching and continues until gastrulation, but no typical secondary mesenchyme cells (SMCs) migrate from the tip of the archenteron. Here, I investigated the cell lineage of mesenchyme cells through metamorphosis in P. japonica and found that mesenchyme cells migrating before hatching (early mesenchyme cells [EMCs]) were exclusively derived from micromeres and became larval skeletogenic cells, whereas cells migrating after hatching (late mesenchyme cells [LMCs]) appeared to contain several nonskeletogenic cells. Thus, it is likely that EMCs are homologous to primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs) and LMCs are similar to the SMCs of typical indirect developers, suggesting that heterochrony in the timing of mesenchyme cell ingression may have occurred in this species. EMCs disappeared after metamorphosis and LMCs were involved in adult skeletogenesis. Embryos from which micromeres were removed at the 16-cell stage formed armless plutei that went on to form adult skeletons and resulted in juveniles with normal morphology. These results suggest that in P. japonica, LMCs form adult skeletal elements, whereas EMCs are specialized for larval spicule formation. The occurrence of evolutionary modifications in mesenchyme cells in the transition from indirect to direct development of sand dollars is discussed.

PubMed ID: 17501749
Article link: Evol Dev

Genes referenced: LOC115919910