Evidence for transcriptional modulation but not acid phosphatase expression during programmed cell death in the colonial tunicate Botryllus schlosseri.
Botryllus schlosseri is a clonally modular ascidian in which asexually derived adults (zooids) exhibit developmental synchrony. At the conclusion of the blastogenic (asexual) cycle every 5 days at 21 degrees C, all zooids within a colony die simultaneously in 24 hours and are replaced by a new asexual generation of zooids. This cyclical process, called takeover, involves the selective destruction of the zooid's visceral tissues which include the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, intestine, endostyle, neural complex and heart, whereas bud tissues and mesenchymal components (muscle and blood cells) remain unaffected. Ultrastructural analysis indicates that the most prevalent form of cell death occurs by apoptosis, although necrotic changes are also observed in several tissues (i.e., stomach and intestine). Blood-derived macrophages and neighboring cells subsequently engulf visceral tissues, reducing the zooid to the size of a small vesicle. Here, we have tested the possibility that acid phosphatase, a hydrolase whose presence is associated with cell death in several invertebrate systems, could account for some of the regressive changes observed during takeover. Our observations indicate that acid phosphatase (AP) activity was selectively localized in the gut of parent zooids during the growth phase of the cycle, with the stomach exhibiting the most intense histochemical staining on tissue sections. As zooid regression progressed during takeover, stomach AP staining gradually disappeared. Other visceral tissues never became AP-positive. Therefore, this hydrolase appears to play a minimal role in zooid death. In order to characterize genes whose expression pattern was selectively altered during takeover, we have carried out differential mRNA display analysis. We report on two genes, 790.3 and 790.4, that are down- and upregulated, respectively, during this process. Collectively, these findings indicate that the takeover phase of blastogenesis in Botryllus involves modulated gene expression.
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- DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0029(19960615)34:3<218::AID-JEMT4>3.0.CO;2-L
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