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Cell fate, morphogenetic movement and population kinetics of embryonic endoderm at the time of germ layer formation in the mouse
K.A. Lawson, R.A. Pedersen


The fate of the embryonic endoderm (generally called visceral embryonic endoderm) of prestreak and early primitive streak stages of the mouse embryo was studied in vitro by microinjecting horseradish peroxidase into single axial endoderm cells of 6.7-day-old embryos and tracing the labelled descendants either through gastrulation (1 day of culture) or to early somite stages (2 days of culture). Descendants of endoderm cells from the anterior half of the axis were found at the extreme cranial end of the embryo after 1 day and in the visceral yolk sac endoderm after 2 days, i.e. they were displaced anteriorly and anterolaterally. Descendants of cells originating over and near the anterior end of the early primitive streak, i.e. posterior to the distal tip of the egg cylinder, were found after 1 day over the entire embryonic axis and after 2 days in the embryonic endoderm at the anterior intestinal portal, in the foregut, along the trunk and postnodally, as well as anteriorly and posteriorly in the visceral yolk sac. Endoderm covering the posterior half of the early primitive streak contributed to postnodal endoderm after 1 day (at the late streak stage) and mainly to posterior visceral yolk sac endoderm after 2 days. Clonal descendants of axial endoderm were located after 2 days either over the embryo or in the yolk sac; the few exceptions spanned the caudal end of the embryo and the posterior yolk sac. The clonal analysis also showed that the endoderm layer along the posterior half of the axis of prestreak- and early-streak-stage embryos is heterogeneous in its germ layer fate. Whereas the germ layer location of descendants from anterior sites did not differ after 1 day from that expected from the initial controls (approx. 90% exclusively in endoderm), only 62% of the successfully injected posterior sites resulted in labelled cells exclusively in endoderm; the remainder contributed partially or entirely to ectoderm and mesoderm. This loss from the endoderm layer was compensated by posterior-derived cells that remained in endoderm having more surviving descendants (8.4 h population doubling time) than did anterior-derived cells (10.5 h population doubling time). There was no indication of cell death at the prestreak and early streak stages; at least 93% of the cells were proliferating and more than half of the total axial population were in, or had completed, a third cell cycle after 22 h culture.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)