New data were obtained corroborating that somitogenesis is a rhythmic process, in which the time of somite formation is strictly constant. This constant (τ s ) can be considered as a natural unit of developmental “biological clock” characterizing rhythmic processes. The constant τ s can be determined with an exceptional accuracy that has no analogs among the known biological processes. This fact alone suggests that the accuracy of developmental clock is very high. In addition to the constancy of τ s , all forming somites have equal linear size along the notochord axis. In the process with strictly constant temporal and spatial factors, time plays the leading role in triggering the formation of new somite. This became clear in studies of twin embryos. Both embryos had the same number of somites but they were shorter than in the normal embryos. Also, we measured the length of head and both segmented and unsegmented caudal parts of the trunk. Combined with the published data on somitogenesis, our results suggest that the previously proposed scheme for the role of developmental clock in embryogenesis predicts: (1) a possible loss of some embryonic stages without serious consequences for subsequent development and (2) periodic switching on/off any embryonic processes (at the molecular, cellular, or supercellular level) with intervals multiple to τ s .
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 18, 2004
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