Primary mesenchyme cell patterning during the early stages following ingression.
Sea urchin primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs) ingress into the blastocoel during an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), migrate along the blastocoelar wall for a period of time, and then settle into a subequatorial ring to form the larval skeleton. Fluorescent-marked blastomeres alone, or in combination with blastomere recombination, were used to track the position of PMCs during the early phases of this movement. Micromeres expressing Golgi-tethered GFP (galtase-GFP) were transplanted onto TRITC-stained hosts (in place of the endogenous micromere) to observe the progeny of a single micromere. Galtase-GFP as a Golgi marker is not transferred between PMCs when the syncytium forms. Thus, the position of cells can be followed relative to beginning position for longer periods than previously reported. The PMC progeny of a single micromere do not disperse upon ingression, but instead remain in a closely associated cluster. Generally, progeny of a single micromere remain in the quadrant of origin. In total, greater than approximately 94% of labeled PMCs remain within the local region of ingression. By contrast, when a transplanted micromere is placed at the vegetal plate after removing all 4 host micromeres, the resultant PMCs ingress and migrate into all 4 quadrants. Similarly, if 1 blastomere is injected at the 2-cell stage, and later the 2 unlabeled micromeres are removed at the 16-cell stage, the remaining PMCs ingress into all 4 quadrants of the vegetal plate. We conclude that the normal restriction of PMCs to a quadrant is due to mechanical constraint from other micromere-PMCs. If a labeled micromere is placed ectopically at the macromere/mesomere boundary, the PMC progeny ingress ectopically and migrate longitudinally along the animal-vegetal axis only. Injection of galtase-GFP into one blastomere at the 4-cell stage shows a 2-step pattern of localization. At late mesenchyme blastula and early gastrula stages, greater than 90% of GFP-expressing PMCs remain in the injected quadrant, while at mid- to late-gastrula stage and beyond, more PMCs are found outside the injected quadrant. The migration that sets up the asymmetry of the larval skeleton first occurs around mid- to late-gastrula stages, when some PMCs from an aboral quadrant migrate to the adjacent oral quadrant. In all, these data combined with previous data suggest that freshly ingressed PMCs migrate along a longitudinal path toward the animal pole and back toward the vegetal pole. Beginning at mid- to late-gastrula stage, PMCs utilize oral-aboral cues from the ectoderm for the first time. At this time, some aboral PMCs migrate into the adjacent oral quadrant to assist in the formation of the ventrolateral cluster.
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