An unequal cleavage gives rise to a dedicated population of larval skeletogenic cells in sea urchins. The timing of this unequal cleavage, associated localization of key lineage markers, and loss of this lineage when embryos are treated with cleavage-equalizing reagents have all suggested that the asymmetry of the daughter cells is causal to the specification of this cell lineage. However, the mechanism by which asymmetric cleavage specifies this cell type remains unidentified. I found that applying a classical cleavage-equalizing reagent (sodium dodecyl sulfate) to embryos of an equally cleaving urchin eliminates its larval skeleton. This result suggests that equalization of cleavage itself is not causally responsible for specification of this cell lineage but coincident.
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