We describe the spatial and temporal patterns of cell division in the early Xenopus embryo, concentrating on the period between the midblastula transition and the early tailbud stage. Mitotic cells were identified using an antibody recognising phosphorylated histone H3. At least four observations are of interest. First, axial mesodermal cells, including prospective notochord, stop dividing after involution and may not divide thereafter. Second, cell division is more pronounced in the neural plate than in nonneural ectoderm, and the pattern of cell division becomes further refined as neurogenesis proceeds. Third, cells in the cement gland cease proliferation completely as they begin to accumulate pigment. Finally, the precursors of peripheral sensory organs such as the ear and olfactory placode undergo active cell proliferation when they arise from the sensorial layer of the ectoderm. These observations and others should provide a platform to study the relationship between the regulation of developmental processes and the cell cycle during Xenopus embryogenesis.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.