The establishment of embryonic axial properties in the nemertean, Cerebratulus lacteus

Jonathan Q. Henry, Mark Q. Martindale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experiments were performed to determine whether the first cleavage division plays a role in setting up the dorsoventral axis in embryos of the equal-cleaving nemertean Cerebratulus lacteus. Fertilized eggs were compressed to change the orientation of the first cleavage spindle, and thus the plane of the first cleavage division. One cell of the resulting two celled embryos was then injected with lineage tracer to determine whether the first cleavage plane always maintains its normal relationships to the median and frontal planes or whether new relationships (and thus, novel cell lineages) could be created. Many of these compressed embryos gave rise to normal-appearing pilidium larvae in which the first cleavage plane had taken on various oblique angular relationships relative to the plane of bilateral symmetry and the dorsoventral axis of the larva. These findings indicate that the first cleavage plane can be dissociated from its normal relationships to these axial properties. Thus, the first cleavage division is not causally involved in the establishment of the dorsoventral and bilateral axes. We argue that the dorsoventral axis is specified prior to the first cleavage division.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-721
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 15 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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