The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 36: 527 - 535 (1992)

Vol 36, Issue 4

Altering the position of the first horizontal cleavage furrow of the amphibian (Xenopus) egg reduces embryonic survival

Published: 1 December 1992

H Yokota, A W Neff and G M Malacinski

Department of Biology, School of Medicine, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405.


The animal/vegetal cleavage ratio (AVCR), defined as the ratio of the height of the animal blastomere to the height of the Xenopus embryo at the 8 cell stage, can be shifted by placing embryos in novel gravitational fields: clinostating (microgravity simulation) increases AVCR, and centrifugation (hypergravity simulation) reduces AVCR. This report contributes to an understanding of the subcellular mechanism responsible for the furrow relocation and assesses its significance. Embryo inversion and D2O immersion were found to increase AVCR, and cold shock was found to reduce AVCR. Based on the additive or antagonistic effects of combined treatments, it is postulated that the primary cause of AVCR changes is an alteration in the distribution of yolk platelets and the rearrangement of microtubule arrays. Embryos with a decreased AVCR exhibited reduced survival in early developmental stages, indicating serious difficulties in cleavage, blastulation and/or gastrulation. Cold-shocked embryos with a reduced AVCR could be rescued by D2O pretreatment or clinostating, an observation which supports the notion that changes accompanying AVCR modifications represent the primary cause of the reduction in percent survival.

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