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Presumptive primordial germ cells (pPGCs) in explants, derived from single germ plasm-bearing cells of Xenopus 32-cell embryos, at the equivalent of neurula stage (stage 20) in control embryos (designated as ‘stage-20′ explants) were demonstrated to be able to differentiate into PGCs, when implanted into a prospective place of pPGCs in host embryos (stage 20) (Ikenishi & Tsuzaki, 1988). According to a recent proposal that individual early embryonic cells in Xenopus, at both in vivo and in vitro, are able to measure elapsed time since fertilization (Cooke and Smith, 1990), the result means that the implanted pPGCs having the same elapsed time as the host embryos (isochronic pPGCs) could differentiate into PGCs. In the present study, in order to know whether the compatibility in elapsed times of implanted pPGCs and host embryos is necessary for the differentiation of PGCs, labelled, heterochronic pPGCs in ‘stages 12–33/34′ explants were implanted into unlabelled, host neurulae (stage 19).

Those heterochronic pPGCs could differentiate into PGCs like isochronic pPGCs in ‘stage-19′ explants as the control. By comparing the average diameters and yolk contents of labelled PGCs with those of unlabelled, host ones in experimental tadpoles, the possibility that a certain mechanism modulating the elapsed time of heterochronic pPGCs to that of host pPGCs is present in host embryos was also suggested.