Cell-cell interactions regulate skeleton formation in the sea urchin embryo.
In the sea urchin embryo, the primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs) make extensive contact with the ectoderm of the blastula wall. This contact is shown to influence production of the larval skeleton by the PMCs. A previous observation showed that treatment of embryos with NiCl2 can alter spicule number and skeletal pattern (Hardin et al. (1992) Development, 116, 671-685). Here, to explore the tissue sensitivity to NiCl2, experiments recombined normal or NiCl2-treated PMCs with either normal or NiCl2-treated PMC-less host embryos. We find that NiCl2 alters skeleton production by influencing the ectoderm of the blastula wall with which the PMCs interact. The ectoderm is responsible for specifying the number of spicules made by the PMCs. In addition, experiments examining skeleton production in vitro and in half- and quarter-sized embryos shows that cell interactions also influence skeleton size. PMCs grown in vitro away from interactions with the rest of the embryo, can produce larger spicules than in vivo. Thus, the epithelium of the blastula wall appears to provide spatial and scalar information that regulates skeleton production by the PMCs.
Armstrong, N; Hardin, J; McClay, DR
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