The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 44: 507 - 510 (2000)

Vol 44, Issue 5

Overexpression of S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC) activates the maternal program of apoptosis shortly after MBT in Xenopus embryos

Published: 30 November -0001

M Kai, T Higo, J Yokoska, C Kaito, E Kajita, H Fukamachi, E Takayama, K Igarashi and K Shiokawa

Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Overexpression of S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC) mRNA in 1- and 2-cell stage Xenopus embryos induces cell autonomous dissociation at the late blastula stage and developmental arrest at the early gastrula stage. The induction of cell dissociation took place "punctually" at the late blastula stage in the SAMDC-overexpressing cells, irrespective of the stage of the microinjection of SAMDC mRNA. When we examined the cells undergoing the dissociation, we found that they were TUNEL-positive and contained fragmented nuclei with condensed chromatin and fragmented DNA. Furthermore, by injecting Xenopus Bcl-2 mRNA together with SAMDC mRNA, we showed that SAMDC-overexpressing embryos are rescued completely by Bcl-2 and becometadpoles. These results indicatethat cell dissociation induced by SAMDC overexpression is due to apoptotic cell death. Since the level of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is greatly reduced in SAMDC-overexpressing embryos and this induces inhibition of protein synthesis accompanied by the inhibition of DNA and RNA syntheses, we conclude that deficiency in SAM induced by SAMDC overexpression activates the maternal program of apoptosis in Xenopus embryos at the late blastula stage, but not before. We propose that this mechanism serves as a surveillance mechanism to check and eliminate cells physiologically damaged during the cleavage stage.

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