Cells were isolated from the somite mesoderm and from the unsegmented (presomite) mesoderm of early chick embryos and exposed to actinomycin D in single cell culture. Actinomycin D inhibited proliferation in cell cultures derived from the unsegmented mesoderm, although the same concentrations of this antibiotic did not inhibit cultures derived from the somite mesoderm. This differential sensitivity parallels the regionally specific necrosis and degeneration observed in the unsegmented mesoderm of intact chick embryos exposed to actinomycin D. In culture, both cell types exhibited approximately the same permeability to labeled actinomycin D and showed comparable inhibition of RNA, DNA, and protein syntheses in the presence of the antibiotic. However, freshly isolated mesodermal cells from the somite region had a higher content of RNA than did cells from the unsegmented region, and the somite cells maintained a higher rate of macromolecular synthesis in untreated cultures.

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