The fine structure of differentiating interstitial cells in Hydra

Research paper by Thomas L. Lentz

Indexed on: 01 Jul '65Published on: 01 Jul '65Published in: Cell and Tissue Research


Interstitial cells of hydra are small undifferentiated cells containing an abundance of free ribosomes and few other cytoplasmic organelles. They are capable of differentiating into epitheliomuscular, digestive, glandular, nerve cells, and cnidoblasts. Developing epitheliomuscular and digestive cells acquire bundles of filaments, 50 Å in diameter, which later are incorporated into the muscular processes. Early gland cells develop an elaborate rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum and one or more Golgi apparatus. Secretory granules originate in the Golgi region eventually filling the apex of the cell. Neurons are recognized first by the presence of an elaborate Golgi apparatus, absence of a well-developed endoplasmic reticulum, and later the appearance of cytoplasmic processes. The most striking feature of nematocyst formation by cnidoblasts is the presence of a complex distribution system between protein synthesizing rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum and the nematocyst. This system consists of connections between cisternae of the endoplasmic reticulum with smooth Golgi vesicles which in turn are connected to minute tubules, 200 Å in diameter. The tubules extend from the Golgi region around the nematocyst finally entering the limiting membrane of the nematocyst. It is suggested that the interstitial cells of hydra represent a model system for the investigation of many aspects of cell differentiation.