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Establishment of segment polarity in the ectoderm of the leech HelobdellaThe segmented ectoderm and mesoderm of the leech arise via a stereotyped cell lineage from embryonic stem cells called teloblasts. Each teloblast gives rise to a column of primary blast cell daughters, and the blast cells generate descendant clones that serve as the segmental repeats of their particular teloblast lineage. We have examined the mechanism by which the leech primary blast cell clones acquire segment polarity - i.e. a fixed sequence of positional values ordered along the anteroposterior axis of the segmental repeat. In the O and P teloblast lineages, the earliest divisions of the primary blast cell segregate anterior and posterior cell fates along the anteroposterior axis. Using a laser microbeam, we ablated single cells from both o and p blast cell clones at stages when the clone was two to four cells in length. The developmental fate of the remaining cells was characterized with rhodamine-dextran lineage tracer. Twelve different progeny cells were ablated, and in every case the ablation eliminated the normal descendants of the ablated cell while having little or no detectable effect on the developmental fate of the remaining cells. This included experiments in which we specifically ablated those blast cell progeny that are known to express the engrailed gene, or their lineal precursors. These findings confirm and extend a previous study by showing that the establishment of segment polarity in the leech ectoderm is largely independent of cell interactions conveyed along the anteroposterior axis. Both intercellular signaling and engrailed expression play an important role in the segment polarity specification of the Drosophila embryo, and our findings suggest that there may be little or no conservation of this developmental mechanism between those two organisms.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Seaver, E. C.
(Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 78712, United States)
Shankland, M.
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 2001
Publication Information
Publication: Development (Cambridge, England)
Volume: 128
Issue: 9
ISSN: 0950-1991
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline Evolutionary Biology
Non-NASA Center

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