MAPK activation and the specification of the D quadrant in the gastropod mollusc, Crepidula fornicata

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Embryos of the gastropod snail Crepidula fornicata exhibit a typical spiral cleavage pattern. Although a small polar lobe is formed at the first and second cleavage divisions, the embryo of C. fornicata exhibits a mode of development similar to that of equal-cleaving spiralians in which the D quadrant is conditionally specified by inductive interactions involving the derivatives of the first quartet micromeres. This study demonstrates that mitogen activated protein kinases, MAPK, are initially activated in the progeny of the first quartet micromeres, just prior to the birth of the third quartet (e.g., late during the 16-cell and subsequently during the 20-cell stages). Afterwards, MAPK is activated in 3D just prior to the 24-cell stage, transiently in 4d and finally in a subset of animal micromeres immediately following those stages. This pattern of MAPK activation differs from that reported for other spiralians. Using an inhibitor of MAPK kinase (MEK), we demonstrated that activated MAPK is required for the specification of the 3D macromere, during the late 16-cell through early 24-cell stages. This corresponds to the interval when the progeny of the first quartet micromeres specify the D quadrant macromere. Activated MAPK is not required in 3D later during the 24-cell stage or in the embryonic organizer, 4d, for its normal activity. Likewise, activated MAPK is not required in the animal micromeres during subsequent stages of development. Additional experiments suggest that the polar lobe, though not required for normal development, may play a role in restricting the activation of MAPK and biasing the specification of the 3D macromere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Cell signaling
  • Evolution
  • Induction
  • Lophotrochozon
  • Spiralian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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