The Nematode Stoma: Homology of Cell Architecture with Improved Understanding by Confocal Microscopy of Labeled Cell Boundaries

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Burr, A. H. Jay and Baldwin, J. G. (2016), The nematode stoma: Homology of cell architecture with improved understanding by confocal microscopy of labeled cell boundaries. Journal of Morphology, 277: 1168–1186. doi:10.1002/jmor.20567

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DOI 10.1002/jmor.20567

Nematode stomas vary widely in the cuticular structures evolved for different feeding strategies, yet the arrangement of the epithelial cell classes that form these structures may be conserved. This article addresses several issues that have impeded the full acceptance of this hypothesis including controversies arising from the structure of the Caenorhabditis elegans stoma. We investigated fluorescent antibody labeling of cell boundaries in conjunction with confocal microscopy as an alternative to transmission electron microscopy (TEM), using MH27 to label apical junctions in C. elegans and two other species. Accurately spaced optical sections collected by the confocal microscope provide a three-dimensional array of pixels (voxels) that, using image-processing software, can be rotated and sectioned at accurately chosen thicknesses and locations. Ribbons of fluorescence clearly identify cell boundaries along the luminal cuticle in C. elegans and Zeldia punctata and less clearly in Bunonema sp. The patterns render cell classes and their relationships readily identifiable. In the C. elegans stoma they correct a misreading of serial TEMs that was not congruent with architecture in other nematodes—the row of marginal cells is now seen to be continuous as in other nematodes, rather than being interrupted by encircling pm1 cells. Also impeding understanding, the reference to certain cell classes as ‘epithelial’ and others as “muscle” in the C. elegans literature is at variance with muscle expression in most other taxa. For consistent comparison among species, we propose that these cell class descriptors based on function be replaced by topological terms. With these and other confusing concepts and terminology removed, the homology of the cellular architecture among taxa becomes obvious. We provide a corrected description of the cell architecture of the C. elegans stoma and examples of how it is modified in other taxa with different feeding strategies.

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National Science Foundation