Expression of cell death regulatory genes and limited apoptosis induction in avian blastodermal cells.

Molecular reproduction and development

PubMedID: 9740320

Muscarella DE, Rachlinski MK, Bloom SE. Expression of cell death regulatory genes and limited apoptosis induction in avian blastodermal cells. Mol Reprod Dev. 1998;51(2):130-42.
Apoptosis is a well-established cellular mechanism for selective cell deletion during development. However, little is known about the expression of an apoptotic pathway and its role in determining the relative sensitivity of the early, pre-gastrula, avian embryo to stress-induced cell death. We examined the sensitivity of avian blastodermal cells to engage in apoptosis upon exposure to etoposide, a topoisomerase II-inhibitor that rapidly and efficiently induces apoptosis in many cell types. We found that while the blastodermal cells are capable of engaging in apoptosis, they are highly resistant to such induction with respect to both concentration of drug required and length of exposure, even when compared to a tumor cell line with a known multi-drug resistant phenotype. Additionally, we assessed the expression of several candidate regulatory genes in blastodiscs from infertile eggs (i.e., maternal RNA transcripts), blastodermal cells immediately following oviposition, and various stages of early development up to gastrulation. This analysis revealed that several genes whose products have anti-apoptotic activity, including bcl-2, bcl-xL, hsp70, grp78 and the glutathione S-transferases, are expressed as early as the stage 1 embryo in the newly oviposited egg. These transcripts are also found in the infertile blastodisc, suggesting a role for maternally derived transcripts in the protection of the oocyte and zygote. Significantly, constitutive levels of hsp70 mRNA exceeded those of the other anti-apoptotic genes in the blastodermal cells. These results contribute to an emerging picture of stress resistance at the earliest stages of avian embryo development which involves multiple anti-apoptotic genes that act at different regulatory points in the apoptotic cascade.