The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 42: 237 - 241 (1998)

Vol 42, Issue 3

Special Issue: Developmental Genetics of Drosophila

Developmental cell lineage

Published: 30 November -0001

G S Stent

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3200, USA.


Studies of the role of cell lineage in development began in the 1870s, fell into decline in the first half of the 20th century, and were revived in the 1960s. This revival was attended by the introduction of new and powerful analytical techniques. Cell lineage can be inferred to have a causative role in developmental cell fate in embryos in which induced changes in cell division pattern lead to changes in cell fate. Such a causative role of cell lineage is suggested also by cases where homologous cell types characteristic of symmetrical and longitudinally metameric body plan arise via homologous cell lineages. The developmental pathways of commitment to particular cell fates proceed according to a mixed typologic and topographic hierarchy, which appears to reflect an evolutionary compromise between maximizing the ease of ordering the spatial distribution of determinants of commitment and minimizing the need for migration of differentially committed embryonic cells.

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