Ordered progression of nematogenesis from stem cells through differentiation stages in the tentacle bulb of Clytia hemisphaerica (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria)

Dev Biol. 2008 Mar 1;315(1):99-113. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.12.023. Epub 2007 Dec 27.


Nematogenesis, the production of stinging cells (nematocytes) in Cnidaria, can be considered as a model neurogenic process. Most molecular data concern the freshwater polyp Hydra, in which nematocyte production is scattered throughout the body column ectoderm, the mature cells then migrating to the tentacles. We have characterized tentacular nematogenesis in the Clytia hemisphaerica hydromedusa and found it to be confined to the ectoderm of the tentacle bulb, a specialized swelling at the tentacle base. Analysis by a variety of light and electron microscope techniques revealed that while cellular aspects of nematogenesis are similar to Hydra, the spatio-temporal characteristics are markedly more ordered. The tentacle bulb nematogenic ectoderm (TBE) was found to be polarized, with a clear progression of successive nematoblast stages from a proximal zone (comprising a majority of undifferentiated cells) to the distal end where the tentacle starts. Pulse-chase labelling experiments demonstrated a continuous displacement of differentiating nematoblasts towards the tentacle tip, and that nematogenesis proceeds more rapidly in Clytia than in Hydra. Compact expression domains of orthologues of known nematogenesis-associated genes (Piwi, dickkopf-3, minicollagens and NOWA) were correspondingly staggered along the TBE. These distinct characteristics make the Clytia TBE a promising experimental system for understanding the mechanisms regulating nematogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Movement
  • Cnidaria / cytology*
  • Cnidaria / genetics
  • Cnidaria / metabolism
  • Cnidaria / physiology*
  • Cnidaria / ultrastructure
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Ectoderm / cytology
  • Ectoderm / physiology
  • Ectoderm / ultrastructure
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Mitosis
  • Models, Biological
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rhodamines / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Stem Cells / ultrastructure


  • Biomarkers
  • Indoles
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Rhodamines
  • tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate
  • DAPI
  • Collagen