Cell lineage, cell-cell interaction, and segment formation in the ectoderm of a glossiphoniid leech embryo

Dev Biol. 1984 Jul;104(1):143-60. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(84)90044-7.


Cell division patterns and cell-cell interactions in the germinal bands of the glossiphoniid leech Helobdella triserialis were studied with the aid of a cell lineage tracer dye. Each germinal band of the Helobdella embryo consists of five columns, or bandlets, of primary blast cells, designated as the mesodermal m bandlet and ectodermal n, o, p, and q bandlets. Primary blast cells of each ectodermal bandlet appear to undergo stereotyped, lineage-specific cell divisions. The metameric segmentation pattern of the leech thus appears to arise through a series of segmentally iterated, stereotyped cell divisions of serially homologous primary blast cell clones. Cell-cell interactions were studied by means of cell ablations. With one exception, blast cells underwent their stereotyped divisions without regard to the presence or absence of their normal neighbors. In the one exceptional case, o blast cells underwent divisions normally characteristic of p blast cells when their normal neighboring p bandlet was deleted. However, both o and p blast cells underwent their normal stereotyped divisions when their neighboring m, n, and q bandlets were deleted. It is proposed that the differential choice of pathway by the o and p blast cells depends upon their relative position with respect to each other and to a polarity cue external to the germinal band.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastomeres / physiology
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • Ectoderm / physiology*
  • Female
  • Leeches / embryology*
  • Mesoderm / physiology
  • Species Specificity