The identifiable cells of leech embryos exhibit characteristic differences in the timing of cell division. To elucidate the mechanisms underlying these cell-specific differences in cell cycle timing, the leech cdc25 gene was isolated because Cdc25 phosphatase regulates the asynchronous cell divisions of postblastoderm Drosophila embryos. Examination of the distribution of cdc25 RNA and the zygotic expression of cdc25 in identified cells of leech embryos revealed lineage-dependent mechanisms of regulation. The early blastomeres, macromeres and teloblasts have steady levels of maternal cdc25 RNA throughout their cell cycles. The levels of cdc25 RNA remain constant throughout the cell cycles of the segmental founder cells, but the majority of these transcripts are zygotically produced. Cdc25 RNA levels fluctuate during the cell cycles of the micromeres. The levels peak during early G2, due to a burst of zygotic transcription, and then decline as the cell cycles progress. These data suggest that cells of different lineages employ different strategies of cell cycle control.

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