Cell-cell interaction and cell rearrangement were examined in the process of epithelial sheet formation during regeneration from hydra cell aggregates. The ectodermal and endodermal epithelial cell layers of Hydra magnipapillata were separated by procaine treatment. Each of the separated layers was then dissociated into single cells and reaggregated to produce ectodermal or endodermal cell aggregates. When the two aggregate types were recombined, a firm adhesion was quickly established between them. This was followed by a vigorous spreading of the ectodermal epithelial cells as a thin layer over the endoderm in a manner similar to the ‘epiboly’ in some developing embryos. Cell movement in this spreading process was examined using fluorescent dyestaining. It revealed that cells initially located in the inside of the aggregate migrated to intercalate themselves among the cells originally present in the contact surface. This radial cell intercalation took place continuously in the contact surface of both the ectodermal and endodermal aggregates, and produced a rapid growth of the contact surface, eventually leading to complete envelopment of the entire endoderm by the ectoderm. The resulting structure was a small sphere having a two-layered epithelial organization as in normal hydra. This sphere regenerated into a complete hydra a few days later. A tryptic extract of hydra membrane fraction specifically inhibited the ectodermal spreading over the endoderm, but not the initial adhesion or the later regeneration processes. These observations suggest that radial cell intercalation at the contact surface plays a crucial role in producing ectodermal spreading and establishing epithelial sheet organization in the recombined aggregates. The intercalation is presumably activated by a signal exchange through the contact surface. The inhibitory effect of the membrane extract suggests that it contains a factor that is involved in some way in this signaling mechanism.

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