Electron-microscopic studies of the neural complex (neural gland, dorsal strand, and cerebral ganglion) of an ascidian, Halocynthia roretzi, were performed, paying particular attention to the secretory systems. We found that cells scattered along the dorsal strand and neural cells in the cerebral ganglion contained electron-dense secretory granules of variable size. Immunoelectron-microscopic studies with an antiserum to bullfrog prolactin revealed that the secretory granules (100-250 nm in diameter) of some granulated cells contained a prolactin-like substance. Cells belonging to the neural gland and dorsal strand neither contained electron-dense granules nor showed immunoreactivity. The possibility that cells in the cerebral ganglion and those along the dorsal strand are phylogenetic progenitors of vertebrate adenohypophyseal cells is discussed.
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