Interstitial cell migration in Hydra attenuata. I. Quantitative description of cell movements

Dev Biol. 1984 Sep;105(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(84)90255-0.


The interstitial cell system of hydra contains multipotent stem cells which can form at least two classes of differentiated cell types, nerves and nematocytes. The amount of nerve and nematocyte production varies in an axially dependent pattern along the body column. Some interstitial cells can migrate, which makes it conceivable that this observed pattern of differentiation is not the result of regionally specified stem cell commitment, but rather arises by the selective movement of predetermined cells to the correct site prior to expression. To assess this latter possibility quantitative information on the dynamics of interstitial cell migration was obtained. Epithelial hydra were grafted to normal animals in order to measure (1) the number of cells migrating per day, (2) the location of these cells within the host tissue, and (3) the axial directionality of this movement. Tissue properties such as axial position and the density of cells within the interstitial spaces of the host were also tested for their possible influence on migration. Results indicate that there is a considerable traffic of migrating interstitial cells and this movement has many of the characteristics necessary to generate the position-dependent pattern of nerve differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Hydra / cytology
  • Hydra / physiology*
  • Kinetics