Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 215, Issue 8, pp 383–392 | Cite as

From larval bodies to adult body plans: patterning the development of the presumptive adult ectoderm in the sea urchin larva

  • Sharon B. MinsukEmail author
  • Mary E. Andrews
  • Rudolf A. Raff
Original Article


Echinoderms are unique among bilaterians for their derived, nonbilateral adult body plan. Their radial symmetry emerges from the bilateral larval body plan by the establishment of a new axis, the adult oral–aboral axis, involving local mesoderm–ectoderm interactions. We examine the mechanisms underlying this transition in the direct-developing sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma. Adult ectoderm arises from vestibular ectoderm in the left vegetal quadrant. Inductive signals from the left coelom are required for adult ectodermal development but not for initial vestibule formation. We surgically removed gastrula archenteron, making whole-ectoderm explants, left-, right-, and animal-half ectoderm explants, and recombinants of these explants with left coelom. Vestibule formation was analyzed morphologically and with radioactive in situ hybridization with HeET-1, an ectodermal marker. Whole ectodermal explants in the absence of coelom developed vestibules on the left side or ventrally but not on the right side, indicating that left–right polarity is ectoderm autonomous by the gastrula stage. However, right-half ectodermal explants robustly formed vestibules that went on to form adult structures when recombined with the left coelom, indicating that the right side retains vestibule-forming potential that is normally suppressed by signals from the left-side ectoderm. Animal-half explants formed vestibules only about half the time, demonstrating that animal–vegetal axis determination occurs earlier. However, when combined with the left coelom, animal-half ectoderm always formed a vestibule, indicating that the left coelom can induce vestibule formation. This suggests that although coelomic signals are not required for vestibule formation, they may play a role in coordinating the coelom–vestibule interaction that establishes the adult oral–aboral axis.


Echinoderms Symmetry Axial patterning Vestibule 



We thank Ellen Larsen, Maria Byrne, and Ulrich Krohs for comments on the manuscript and helpful discussion. Thanks also to the Sydney Aquarium and the School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, for providing resources and for making our work in Australia possible. New South Wales Fisheries provided permits for collecting sea urchins. This work was funded by an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship to S.B.M. and an NSF research grant to R.A.R.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon B. Minsuk
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mary E. Andrews
    • 1
  • Rudolf A. Raff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Indiana Molecular Biology InstituteIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition ResearchAltenbergAustria

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