In the direct-developing sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma the first cleavage division bisects the dorsoventral axis of the developing embryo along a frontal plane. In the two-celled embryo one of the blastomeres, the ventral cell (V), gives rise to all pigmented mesenchyme, as well as to the vestibule of the echinus rudiment. Upon isolation, however, the dorsal blastomere (D) displays some regulation, and is able to form a small number of pigmented mesenchyme cells and even a vestibule. We have examined the spatial and temporal determination of cell fates along the dorsoventral axis during subsequent development. We demonstrate that the dorsoventral axis is resident within both cells of the two-celled embryo, but only the ventral pole of this axis has a rigidly fixed identity this early in development. The polarity of this axis remains the same in half-embryos developing from isolated ventral (V) blastomeres, but it can flip 180° in half-embryos developing from isolated dorsal (D) blastomeres. We find that cell fates are progressively determined along the dorsoventral axis up to the time of gastrulation. The ability of dorsal half-embryos to differentiate ventral cell fates diminishes as they are isolated at progressively later stages of development. These results suggest that the determination of cell fates along the dorsoventral axis in H. erythrogramma is regulated via inductive interactions organized by cells within the ventral half of the embryo.
- Cell determination
- direct development dorsoventral axis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology