In the present study, we have examined the origin and growth pattern of the beta cells in pancreatic islets, to determine whether a single progenitor cell gave rise to all the precursors of the islets, or if each of a few progenitor cells is the founder of a different islet, or if each islet is a mixture of cells originating from a pool of progenitor cells. Aggregation mouse chimaeras where the pancreatic beta cells derived from each embryo can be identified in the islets on histological sections were analyzed. In two chimaeras, all the islets contained cells from both the aggregated embryo. This clearly demonstrates that each islet resulted from several independent cells. In addition, the beta cells derived from either embryo component were in very small clusters in the islets, suggesting that in situ cell division did not account significantly for islet growth.
The microfilament inhibitor cytochalasin D inhibits extrusion of the first polar body when present during the first meiotic division of mouse oocytes; however, it does not interfere with anaphase movement of chromosomes, and thus induces the formation of tetraploid oocytes. After the separation of chromosomes in anaphase, two spindles start to assemble. However, they merge rapidly and a single meiotic spindle forms. During the transition between metaphase I and metaphase II, in the presence of cytochalasin D, a drop in histone kinase activity takes place demonstrating a transitional decrease in the activity of the maturation promoting factor. These oocytes can be activated parthenogenetically a few hours after washing out the inhibitor. After completion of the second meiotic division and extrusion of a polar body, they contain a diploid number of chromosomes. They are genetically identical to each other and to their mother. Such eggs develop to the blastocyst stage and can implant in the uteri of foster mothers. Most of these fetuses die before the 9th day of gestation, as do diploid control fetuses treated with cytochalasin D during the second meiotic division. The heterozygous state of the experimental embryos obtained after activation of eggs recovered from heterozygous females and treated with cytochalasin D during the first meiotic division was confirmed using a glucose-phosphate isomerase assay. This technique allows the production of genetic clones of parthenogenetic embryos by simple means.
Chimeras were made from parthenogenetic and fertilized cleavage-stage mouse embryos. The perinatal mortality was high. The parthenogenetic contributions to different tissues at birth ranged from 0 to 50%. No selection of parthenogenetic cells was observed in the pigmentation of the coat, but this does not exclude that such selection could act in other tissues. The weight of chimeras at birth negatively correlated to the average contribution of the parthenogenetic part. The growth rate of chimeras was lower than that of nonchimeric animals. The data presented demonstrated that, although parthenogenetic cells are not cell lethals and they can participate to some degree in normal development of most tissues, their extensive presence reduces the viability of chimeras and retards the postnatal development.
Parthenogenetically activated BCF1 and fertilized BALB/c embryos were aggregated to form chimaeras. The fate of the parthenogenetic component was followed in the conceptus during the second half of gestation. The results indicate an early strong selection against parthenogenetic cells in the extra-embryonal part, which is presumably complete by term, and a weaker selective process in the embryo. During early development, parthenogenetic cells have nearly normal developmental potency in the embryo, which allows their balanced contribution in the chimaeras on day 12. Later, this contribution declines significantly resulting in an unbalanced relation to the advantage of the fertilized counterpart. From the results, we suggest that gametic imprinting may play a role not only in the key steps of preimplantation and early postimplantation development, but later in cell and tissue differentiation.