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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Functional gap junctions in the early sea urchin embryo are localized to the vegetal pole.

Using the whole-cell voltage-clamp technique we have studied electrical coupling and dye coupling between pairs of blastomeres in 16- to 128-cell-stage sea urchin embryos. Electrical coupling was established between macromeres and micromeres at the 16-cell stage with a junctional conductance (G(j)) of 26 nS that decreased to 12 nS before the next cleavage division. G(j) between descendants of macromeres and micromeres was 12 nS falling to 8 nS in the latter half of the cell cycle. Intercellular current intensity was independent of transjunctional voltage, nondirectional, and sensitive to 1-octanol and therefore appears to be gated through gap junction channels. There was no significant coupling between other pairs of blastomeres. Lucifer yellow did not spread between these electrically coupled cell pairs and in fact significant dye coupling between nonsister cells was observed only at the 128-cell stage. Since 1-octanol inhibited electrical communication between blastomeres at the 16- to 64-cell stage and also induced defects in formation of the archenteron, it is possible that gap junctions play a role in embryonic induction.[1]


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