The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 58: 775 - 781 (2014)

Vol 58, Issue 10-11-12

Special Issue: Developmental Herpetology

Epithelial cell division in the Xenopus laevis embryo during gastrulation

Published: 2 July 2015

Guillaume Hatte1,2, Marc Tramier1,2, Claude Prigent1,2 and Jean-Pierre Tassan*,1,2

1CNRS UMR 6290 and 2Université de Rennes 1, Institut de Génétique et Développement de Rennes, Rennes, France


How vertebrate epithelial cells divide in vivo and how the cellular environment influences cell division is currently poorly understood. A sine qua non condition to study cell division in situ is the ease of observation of cell division. This is fulfilled in the Xenopus embryo at the gastrula stage where polarized epithelial cells divide with a high frequency at the surface of the organism. Recently, using this model system, we have shown that epithelial cells divide by asymmetric furrowing and that the mode of cell division is regulated during development. Here, we further characterize epithelial cell division in situ. To this end, we used confocal microscopy to study epithelial cell division in the ectoderm of the Xenopus laevis gastrula. Cell division was followed either by indirect immunofluorescence in fixed embryos or by live imaging of embryos transiently expressing diverse fluorescent proteins. Here, we show that during cytokinesis, the plasma membranes of the two daughter cells are usually separated by a gap. For most divisions, daughter cells make contacts basally at a distance from the furrow tip which creates an inverted teardrop-like shaped volume tightly associated with the furrow. At the end of cytokinesis, the inverted teardrop is resorbed; thus it is a transient structure. Several proteins involved in cytokinesis are localized at the tip of the inverted teardrop suggesting that the formation of the gap could be an active process. We also show that intercalation of neighboring cells between daughter cells occasionally occurs during cytokinesis. Our results reveal an additional level of complexity in the relationship between dividing cells and also with their neighboring cells during cytokinesis in the Xenopus embryo epithelium.


cytokinesis, asymmetric furrowing, contractile ring, anillin, actin, myosin

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