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Gap junction formation between normal and reaggregated endoderm cells ofXenopus laevis neurulae

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Using freeze-fracture electron microscopy and fluorescent dye injection we have analysed the contacts between cells of the deeper endoderm taken from neurulae ofXenopus laevis. Endodermal cells in situ have large 1.5 μm diameter gap junctions composed of 8 nm P-face particles and corresponding E-face pits. Beside gap junctions, particle aggregates typical of desmosomal plaques are present but there are no tight junctions. The dissociation of endoderm into single cells involves profound structural alterations in the surface membrane including the complete disappearance of junctional structures among them gap junctions. The reaggregation of endoderm cells leads to the restoration of the surface membrane IMP (Intra Membrane Particle) pattern and, after ca. 30 min, to the establishment of functional pathways allowing for the intercellular transfer of fluorescent dye. Concomitantly gap junctions reappear. The observation that the dissociation and reaggregation of endodermal cells involves IMP alterations which go beyond the cell junctions themselves is discussed as an adaptation of the plasma membrane to changing environmental conditions.

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Correspondence to J. G. Bluemink.

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Sugimoto, K., Hage, W.J. & Bluemink, J.G. Gap junction formation between normal and reaggregated endoderm cells ofXenopus laevis neurulae. Wilhelm Roux' Archiv 191, 143–148 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00848328

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Key words

  • Amphibia
  • Junctions
  • Interaction
  • Development
  • Freeze fracture