The primitive line of embryonic chick blood cells develop as a relatively homogeneous cohort of cells. Using an analysis based on the continuous uptake of thymidine-3H, we have established the generation time, G1, S, and G2 for progressively more mature generations of these immature erythroblasts. The data indicate that after the initiation of hemoglobin synthesis, the average cell will yield six generations of hemoglobin producing erythroblasts. The older generations of erythroblasts exhibit a longer generation time, G1, S, and G2 than the earlier generations of erythroblasts. Other methods of analysis corroborated these findings. One of these methods, an estimate of total erythrocyte productivity from the primitive stem cells (hematocytoblasts), led to the conclusion that the erythroblast cell lineage might be initiated as early as the sixth or seventh division following fertilization. In addition, primitive erythroblasts characterized by one set of cell cycle parameters, when grown in serum associated with erythroblasts of different parameters, showed no alteration in mitotic behavior. These results suggest the presence of programmed cell division not immediately cued by extracellular influence.

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