Human Genetics

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 13–18

Endomitosis: A reappraisal


  • Eeva Therman
    • Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity of Wisconsin
  • Gloria E. Sarto
    • Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyNorthwestern University
  • Patricia A. Stubblefield
    • Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyNorthwestern University
Review Articles

DOI: 10.1007/BF00285390

Cite this article as:
Therman, E., Sarto, G.E. & Stubblefield, P.A. Hum Genet (1983) 63: 13. doi:10.1007/BF00285390


The concept and role of endomitosis is reevaluated in the light of observations on three organisms. Endomitosis which morphologically agrees with Geitler's (1939) classical definition is compared in tapetal cells of the liliaceous plant Eremurus, in the septal cells of the testicular follicles of the grasshopper Melanoplus, and in human cells from normal and molar trophoblasts and cervical cancer. These observations, together with those of Kidnadze and Istomina (1980), show that functionally at least two fundamentally different types of endomitosis exist, although morphologically the stages resemble each other in the three organisms. In the first type, exemplified by Eremurus, each endomitosis leads to a chromosome constitution which represents one level higher ploidy, a course that has been assumed to be characteristic of endomitosis in general. The second type, observed in its most characteristic form in the grasshopper, seems to be stationary: no DNA synthesis occurs, but an intensive RNA synthesis takes place. Presumably such cells have reached a final state in their development and are specialized in manufacturing one or more gene products. Endomitosis in normal placenta comes near this type, although DNA synthesis takes place in occasional cells. However, similar endomitotic nuclei in the hydatiform moles are in the process of DNA synthesis. When endomitosis is analyzed in different organisms and tissues, the observation that this process is not one entity should be kept in mind.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1983