Acid and alkaline phosphatase activity in migrating primordial germ cells of the early chick embryo



Little information is available concerning enzyme activity in primordial germ cells (PGCs) of the early chick embryo. The present study is designed to examine the disposition of alkaline and acid phosphatase activity in the PGCs during their migration into the developing gonads of the early chick embryo. White Leghorn chick embryos were sacrificed at daily intervals from 1 to 6 days of incubation. Following sacrifice the embryos were fixed, dehydrated, and embedded in glycol methacrylate (GMA). Alkaline and acid phosphatases were demonstrated by the simultaneous diazo-coupling method. The embryonic tissues at the different ages were examined for PGCs and the histochemical reactions for alkaline and acid phosphatases in these cells evaluated. Acid phosphatase activity did not appear within PGCs until 3 days of incubation, and then in only a few PGCs in the active phase of their migration in the dorsal mesentery, suggesting that there is no large wave of degeneration of these cells during migration. Alkaline phosphatase activity was observed as early as 2 days of incubation in PGCs during the passive phase of their migration in extraembryonic blood vessels. Alkaline phosphatase-positive PGCs in the active phase of migration were also found in the dorsal mesentery; however, the cellular localization of this enzyme differed from that observed in the passively migrating PGCs, indicating that there are alterations in the metabolic activities of these cells during the active and passive phases of migration.