Changes in states of commitment of single animal pole blastomeres of Xenopus laevis

Dev Biol. 1987 Feb;119(2):503-10. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(87)90053-4.


The experiments described in this paper were designed to compare the normal fates of animal pole blastomeres of Xenopus laevis with their state of commitment. Single animal pole blastomeres were labeled with a lineage marker and transplanted into the blastocoels of host embryos of different stages. The distribution of labeled daughter cells in the tadpole reflects the state of commitment of the parent cell at the time of transplantation. It is known that cells from the animal pole of the early blastula normally contribute predominantly to ectoderm with a small, but significant, contribution to the mesoderm. We show that on transplantation to the blastocoels of late blastula host embryos these blastomeres are pluripotent, contributing to all three germ layers. At later stages the normal fate of these cells becomes restricted solely to ectoderm and concomitantly the proportion of pluripotent cells is reduced, although the results depend upon the stage of the host embryo. Blastomeres from late blastula donors transplanted to mid gastrulae contribute solely to ectoderm in 34% of cases; however, in earlier hosts, when the vegetal hemisphere cells have "mesoderm inducing" or "vegetalizing" activity, late blastula animal pole blastomeres contribute to mesoderm and endoderm rather than ectoderm. Thus during the blastula stage animal pole cells pass from pluripotency to a labile state of commitment to ectoderm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / cytology
  • Blastomeres / cytology*
  • Blastomeres / transplantation
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Ectoderm / cytology
  • Endoderm / cytology
  • Gastrula / cytology
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology*