The structure of the junctional complex between surface cells was investigated in blastula, mid gastrula, late gastrula, and early embryo of the teleost fish Fundulus heteroclitus. In blastulae, the intercellular complex is simple and consists of an apical region where the adjacent membranes are closely apposed (40–60 A) and in places touch, an intermediate zone with a wider intercellular space (> 100 A), and incipient desmosomes. In gastrulae, there are frequent points of fusion of membranes along the apical zone of the complex. Dilatations and an increased number of desmosomes in different stages of development are found along the intermediate zone. In mid gastrula, a close or gap junction with an intercellular space of 20 A occurs below the level of the desmosomes. In late gastrula, the gap junction is reduced in extent and desmosomes are better developed. In the early embryo, the basic organization of the complex is the same, although the deeply situated close junctions are no longer apparent and desmosomes and their associated system of filaments are well developed. At this time, the junctional complex is comparable to that of many epithelia and consists of an apical zonula occludens, a short zonula adherens, and deeply situated maculae adherentes.

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