Dynamics of the control of body pattern in the development of Xenopus laevis. II. Timing and pattern in the development of single blastomeres (presumptive lateral halves) isolated at the 2-cell stage

J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1985 Aug;88:113-33.


Xenopus embryos have been selected in which the first cleavage plane is tending strongly to correspond with that of bilateral symmetry for the future larval pattern. The two blastomeres produced by this cleavage have been separated and allowed to develop as reciprocal pairs of presumptive lateral-half isolates. The early development and the time course of the gastrulation movements, and the qualitative and quantitative aspects of larval mesodermal patterns, have been studied in relation to synchronously fertilized controls. The result is restoration of bilateral symmetry for developmental potential, and production of a pair of small gastrulae and larvae with qualitatively complete body plans but 50% of control cell numbers each (see Kageura & Yamana, 1983). Most commonly, however, the resulting small patterns deviate from the normal range in their proportions in at least one of two ways. The notochord territory is rarely, if ever, under-represented (i.e. notochords contain at least 50% control cell numbers) but it is frequently over-represented, in some cases approximating that of control whole embryos. Reciprocal pairs of isolates thus tend, on average, to produce more notochordal tissue than they would have if developing normally. Secondly, the balance of cell population sizes assigned to somites up and down the axis is altered so that relatively anterior members of the series are less scaled down than those in trunk and tail regions. The mesodermal plan developed by a lateral-half isolate is thus characteristically intermediate between that of a small, harmonious larva (the proportional presumptive fates of the materials, apart from loss of bilaterality), and that of the mosaically developing presumptive dorsoanterior cell pair from the 4-cell stage, discussed in the previous paper. A minority of the lateral isolates does develop a harmonious and thus well-regulated body plan, however, and the normality or otherwise of the schedules of gastrulation timing in isolates seems a good predictor of their morphogenetic performance in this respect. The results are discussed as informing us about the dynamics of the interactions, prior to gastrular stages, that underlie the normal mesoderm development.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastomeres*
  • Cell Count
  • Gastrula
  • Mesoderm
  • Morphogenesis
  • Notochord
  • Time Factors
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology*