Abstract. The spatio-temporal cellular expression and biosynthesis of ganglioside Glac2 was investigated in early chick embryogenesis. For demonstration of embryonic Glac2-biosynthesis, chick embryos of stage 0 and of stages 4–5 were incubated in vitro in the presence of radioactive sugar precursors. It was found that chick embryos snythesize Glac2 as early as at the blastula stage as well as at the gastrula stage, both within the area pellucida and the area opaca. In contrast to the biosynthetical findings immunohistochemical staining of the chick embryos at various stages by aid of the mouse monoclonal antibody (mAb) R 24, specific for the immunoepitope NeuAcα,8NeuAcα,3Galβ, as present on the ganglioside Glac2, revealed a spatio-temporal cellular pattern of expression of this ganglioside in early chick embryos. Immunohistochemical staining of the chick embryo at stage 0 shows that all cells of the embryo, the extraembryonic epiblast and the yolk endoderm included, are mAb R 24-positive. At the intermediate streak stage (stage 3), the cranial part of the deep layer, the so-called endophyll, is strongly mAb R 24-positive, whereas at the end of gastrulation (stage 5), mAb R 24-recognized epitopes appear to be restricted to a narrow band of deep-layer cells in the endophyllic crescent and to the yolk endoderm of the area opaca. At this stage, no labelling by the antibody is observed in cell layers of the future embryo. The beginning of neurulation (stage 7) is characterized by the expression of the mAb R 24-recognized epitope in the notochord, whilst the deep layer in the cranial part of the neural fold still expresses this epitope. No ecto- or mesodermal structures are stained by the antibody at this developmental stage. During further development (stage 12 and 13), mAb R 24-reactivity is restricted to the cranial part of the embryo with a preferential staining of cells of endodermal origin. At these stages, the notochord expresses mAb R 24 binding sites only in its cranial region.
The spatial and temporal correlation between the presence of mAb R 24-recognized epitopes and the morphogenetic positioning of tissues may be indicative for a possible role of the ganglioside Glac2 in corresponding cellular interactions.