Clonal restriction boundaries in Xenopus embryos shown with two intracellular lineage tracers

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Science  15 May 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4803, pp. 851-854
DOI: 10.1126/science.3576203


It has been proposed that clonal restriction boundaries develop in Xenopus embryos between clones initiated at the 512-cell stage, and that these boundaries result in formation of morphological compartments, each populated by progeny of a group of ancestral cells. Although this hypothesis has gained some acceptance, it has also been criticized because the use of only one cell lineage tracer was not a conclusive test of the hypothesis. However, the critical experiment, an assessment of the extent of mingling between two labeled clones in the same embryo, has now been performed. A model of the proposed arrangement of the ancestral cell groups in the 512-cell embryo predicted that the two clones would remain separate in 49% of cases and intermingle in 51% of cases. In fact, there was a bimodal distribution, in which separation of the clones occurred in 46% of embryos and extensive interclonal mingling was observed in 54%. These results are not compatible with hypotheses in which a unimodal distribution of mingling would be predicted but are consistent with the compartment hypothesis.