Ectomesoderm and epithelial–mesenchymal transition-related genes in spiralian development

C. Cornelia Osborne, Kimberly J. Perry, Marty Shankland, Jonathan Q. Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Spiralians (e.g., annelids, molluscs, and flatworms) possess two sources of mesoderm. One is from endodermal precursors (endomesoderm), which is considered to be the ancestral source in metazoans. The second is from ectoderm (ectomesoderm) and may represent a novel cell type in the Spiralia. In the mollusc Crepidula fornicata, ectomesoderm is derived from micromere daughters within the A and B cell quadrants. Their progeny lie along the anterolateral edges of the blastopore. There they undergo epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), become rounded and undergo delamination/ingression. Subsequently, they assume the mesenchymal phenotype, and migrate beneath the surface ectoderm to differentiate various cell types, including muscles and pigment cells. Results: We examined expression of several genes whose homologs are known to regulate Type 1 EMT in other metazoans. Most of these genes were expressed within spiralian ectomesoderm during EMT. Conclusions: We propose that spiralian ectomesoderm, which exhibits analogous cellular behaviors to other populations of mesenchymal cells, may be controlled by the same genes that drive EMT in other metazoans. Perhaps these genes comprise a conserved metazoan EMT gene regulatory network (GRN). This study represents the first step in elucidating the GRN controlling the development of a novel spiralian cell type (ectomesoderm). Developmental Dynamics 247:1097-1120, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1120
Number of pages24
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Spiralia
  • epithelial–mesenchymal transition
  • evolution
  • gastrulation
  • mesoderm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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