Structural and functional polarity of starfish blastomeres

Ritsu Kuraishi, Kenzi Osanai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The cortex of the blastomeres of Asterina pectinifera are structurally polarized so that some kinds of granules in the cortex, which can be stained vitally with Nile blue (Nile blue-positive granules, NBGs), and microvilli were distributed mainly in the apical region. The blastomeres always faced the adjoining blastomeres and blastocoel with the NBG-free, smooth region during embryogenesis. To confirm whether such blastomeres are functionally polarized, we rotated one of the blastomeres in the 2-cell-stage embryo so that it faced the other with the NBG-containing region. As a result, all embryos developed into twin or partitioned blastulae. This shows that the blastomeres are functionally polarized and have to orient the basal cortex toward the inner side of the embryo in order to be integrated into a blastula together with the others. The cortical polarity was formed and maintained even in blastomeres of dissociated embryos. In such blastomeres the cleavage furrows were formed along the axis of polarity. When the blastomeres began to adhere closely to each other at the 256-cell stage, only the NBG-free (basal) region acquired adhesiveness. These facts make it possible to infer why the correct apicobasal orientation of blastomeres is necessary for embryonic integration, without considering intercellular communication during the cleavage stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-310
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989 Dec
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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