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Developmental changes in the integument of the leech hirudo medicinalis annelida hirudinea during a molting cycle an ultrastructural study

Developmental changes in the integument of the leech hirudo medicinalis annelida hirudinea during a molting cycle an ultrastructural study

International Journal of Invertebrate Reproduction & Development 8(3): 127-138

The integument of the leech H. medicinalis in mainly composed of a single layer of cuticle-secreting epidermal cells. The cuticle is made up of collagen fibers which support a layer of membrane-bound epicuticular projections. Shedding of the old cuticle is preceded by the formation of a new cuticle. The epicuticular projections are the 1st to develop; they originate from the tips of numerous microvilli of the epidermal cells. As soon as it appears, the newly-formed collagen layer is firmly attached to the epidermal cells by numerous hemidesmosomes; the old cuticle is no longer connected with the epidermal surface. The epidermal cells exhibit marked characteristics of secretory activity during the laying down of new cuticle. The observations are discussed in connection with recent findings of high ecdysteroid levels in leeches at the beginning of the molting cycle.

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Accession: 005137740

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