The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 34: 421 - 431 (1990)

Vol 34, Issue 4

Expression and distribution of carbohydrate sequences in chick germ cells: a comparative study with lectins and the NC-1/HNK-1 monoclonal antibody

Published: 1 December 1990

E Didier, P Didier, N Fargeix, J Guillot and J P Thiery

Laboratoire de Biologie Animale, Université de Clermont Blaise-Pascal, Aubière, France.


The expression of end-chain sugar residues and of oligosaccharidic sequences has been investigated in chick germ cells at critical stages during the migration, proliferation and sexual differentiation of these cells. Fluorescent lectins and indirect immunofluorescence studies using the NC-1/HNK-1 monoclonal antibody indicate a remarkable control of glycosylation during germ cell embryonal life. Besides a retained expression of glucose/mannose residues, it was found that alpha- and beta-galactose residues, N-acetyllactosamine and N-N' diacetylchitobiose sequences as well as the sulfated trisaccharidic NC-1 epitope were detectable in a stage-specific pattern. Present at a very high density in the cytoplasm and on the surface of the early germ cells at premigrative and migratory stages, the staining for these carbohydrate sequences gradually disappeared when the germ cells settled and proliferated in the developing gonadal primordia. The disaccharide Gal beta 1----3 Gal NAc was exclusively detected in migrating PGCs. In sexualized gonads, acetyllactosamine and/or diacetylchitobiose were similarly reexpressed in both oogonia and spermatogonia. Spermatogonia displayed beta-galactose residues and a high immunoreactivity with the NC1 Mab, indicating modulations in PGC glycosylations related to the acquisition of sexual phenotypes. In addition NC-1 was found to be expressed in the somatic component of the undifferentiated gonad and in the testis interstitial gland.

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