Secondary embryonic axis formation by transplantation of D quadrant micromeres in an oligochaete annelid

Ayaki Nakamoto, Lisa M. Nagy, Takashi Shimizu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Among spiral cleaving embryos (e.g. mollusks and annelids), it has long been known that one blastomere at the four-cell stage, the D cell, and its direct descendants play an important role in axial pattern formation. Various studies have suggested that the D quadrant acts as the organizer of the embryonic axes in annelids, although this has never been demonstrated directly. Here we show that D quadrant micromeres (2d and 4d) of the oligochaete annelid Tubifex tubifex are essential for embryonic axis formation. When 2d and 4d were ablated the embryo developed into a rounded cell mass covered with an epithelial cell sheet. To examine whether 2d and 4d are sufficient for axis formation they were transplanted to an ectopic position in an otherwise intact embryo. The reconstituted embryo formed a secondary embryonic axis with a duplicated head and/or tail. Cell lineage analyses showed that neuroectoderm and mesoderm along the secondary axis were derived from the transplanted D quadrant micromeres and not from the host embryo. However, endodermal tissue along the secondary axis originated from the host embryo. Interestingly, when either 2d or 4d was transplanted separately to host embryos, the reconstituted embryos failed to form a secondary axis, suggesting that both 2d and 4d are required for secondary axis formation. Thus, the Tubifex D quadrant micromeres have the ability to organize axis formation, but they lack the ability to induce neuroectodermal tissues, a characteristic common to chordate primary embryonic organizers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-290
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Annelid
  • Cell transplantation
  • D quadrant
  • Embryonic axis
  • Spiral cleavage
  • Tubifex tubifex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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