sin - sish - ee - um

Def. A network of cells that are connected by low-resistance intercellular pathways.

A syncitium is often characterized by a macroscopic collection of cytoplasm with many nuclei interspersed inside it. Slime molds spend most of their life cycle in a syncitial state. Drosophila (fruit fly) embryoes are also syncitial in the early stages of development. This allows free diffusion of morphogens and mRNAs across the embryo to help determine body patterning and cell fate.

Syn*cy"ti*um (?), n.; pl. Syncitia (#). [NL., from Gr. together + a hollow vessel.]

1. Biol.

Tissue in which the cell or partition walls are wholly wanting and the cell bodies fused together, so that the tissue consists of a continuous mass of protoplasm in which nuclei are imbedded, as in ordinary striped muscle.

2. Zool.

The ectoderm of a sponge.


© Webster 1913.

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