The effect of all‐trans retinoic acid on embryogenesis was studied in a cyclostome, Lampetra japonica. Treatment with 0.05–0.5 μM retinoic acid on early gastrula and early neurula resulted in loss of the pharynx and in the rostral truncation of the neural tube. The mouth, pharynx, esophagus, heart, endostyle, and rostral brain were missing with graded severity. In the severest case, the embryo consisted only of trunk segments, especially myotomes that extended to the rostral end of the axis. The effect appeared to be dose‐ and stage‐dependent: Rostral pharyngeal arches were more vulnerable to a lower amount of retinoic acid, and earlier treatment resulted in severer defects. The initial protrusion of the anterior axis started equally in control and retinoic acid‐treated embryos, implying that the head morphogenesis is omitted in treated embryos. By identifying the number of myotomes based on the differentiation of hypobranchial muscles, there seemed to be no myotomes lost by retinoic acid‐induced truncation. The rostral truncation, therefore, was not simply a limitation of the anterior axis but was restricted to the ventral portion; only the branchial arches disappeared with normally developing myotomes dorsally. The absent region can be defined as the vertebrate head in a morphological sense, including the branchiomeric and preotic paraxial regions as well as the heart. The results suggest the presence of distinct programs between somitomeric and branchiomeric portions of the body, providing a developmental basis for the dual‐metamerical body plan of vertebrates. Dev. Dyn. 1998;211:35‐51. © 1998 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
Developmental Dynamics – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1998
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