Absorption, transportation and digestion of egg white in quail embryos

Authors

  • Norio Yoshizaki,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of 1Biological Diversity and 2Animal Science and Reproduction, Faculty of Agriculture, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.
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  • 1 Yasushi Ito,

    1. Departments of 1Biological Diversity and 2Animal Science and Reproduction, Faculty of Agriculture, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.
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  • 1 Hideyuki Hori,

    1. Departments of 1Biological Diversity and 2Animal Science and Reproduction, Faculty of Agriculture, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.
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  • 1 Hiroshi Saito,

    1. Departments of 1Biological Diversity and 2Animal Science and Reproduction, Faculty of Agriculture, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.
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  • and 1 Atsushi Iwasawa 2

    1. Departments of 1Biological Diversity and 2Animal Science and Reproduction, Faculty of Agriculture, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.
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*Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.

Abstract

The present study was done to reveal how egg white is taken up by embryonic tissues, the pathway through which egg white is transported, and the location where it is digested during the development of the quail Coturnix japonica. Antiserum against quail ovalbumin was raised in rabbit and used as a probe. By immunoelectron microscopy, the uptake of ovalbumin on a small scale by receptor-mediated endocytosis was observed in the ectodermal cells of the yolk sac on days four to seven of incubation. The uptake of egg white on a large scale by fluid-phase endocytosis took place in the cells generally referred to collectively as the ‘albumen sac’. The ovalbumin was transported through the albumen sac into the extraembryonic cavity during days eight to 10, and then into the amniotic cavity through the amnion approximately on day 10. Ovalbumin was present in the intestinal lumen on days 11 and 14, but it was not digested in the intestinal epithelial cells. The ovalbumin was detected in the yolk of embryos after day 10. Immunoblot testing, as well as a fluoroimmunoassay, revealed that the location where the amount of ovalbumin was highest changed chronologically from the extraembryonic cavity on day 10 to the amniotic cavity on day 11, the intestinal lumen on day 12 and then to the yolk on day 13. Several low molecular proteins which cross-reacted with the antiserum were observed in the extracts of the yolk. The reaction producing these proteins depended on low pH (approximately 3.0) and was inhibited by pepstatin A. The ovotransferrin was similarly digested. These results indicate that egg white is, for the most part, transported through the albumen sac to the yolk via the extraembryonic cavity, the amniotic cavity, and the intestinal lumen, and is digested in the yolk by aspartic proteinases.

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