Lineage analysis of micromere 4d, a super-phylotypic cell for Lophotrochozoa, in the leech Helobdella and the sludgeworm Tubifex

Stephanie E. Gline, Ayaki Nakamoto, Sung Jin Cho, Candace Chi, David A. Weisblat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The super-phylum Lophotrochozoa contains the plurality of extant animal phyla and exhibits a corresponding diversity of adult body plans. Moreover, in contrast to Ecdysozoa and Deuterostomia, most lophotrochozoans exhibit a conserved pattern of stereotyped early divisions called spiral cleavage. In particular, bilateral mesoderm in most lophotrochozoan species arises from the progeny of micromere 4d, which is assumed to be homologous with a similar cell in the embryo of the ancestral lophotrochozoan, more than 650. million years ago. Thus, distinguishing the conserved and diversified features of cell fates in the 4d lineage among modern spiralians is required to understand how lophotrochozoan diversity has evolved by changes in developmental processes. Here we analyze cell fates for the early progeny of the bilateral daughters (M teloblasts) of micromere 4d in the leech Helobdella sp. Austin, a clitellate annelid. We show that the first six progeny of the M teloblasts (em1-em6) contribute five different sets of progeny to non-segmental mesoderm, mainly in the head and in the lining of the digestive tract. The latter feature, associated with cells em1 and em2 in Helobdella, is seen with the M teloblast lineage in a second clitellate species, the sludgeworm Tubifex tubifex and, on the basis of previously published work, in the initial progeny of the M teloblast homologs in molluscan species, suggesting that it may be an ancestral feature of lophotrochozoan development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-133
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 May 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Annelid
  • Endoderm
  • Leech
  • Lineage tracing
  • Mesoderm
  • Micromere 4d
  • Spiralian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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