An appropriate level of water loss from eggs is critical to successful hatching. This water may be lost from the egg by evaporation, but where water loss is suboptimal, it is commonly observed that the hatchlings contain substantial amounts of a subcutaneous gel-like fluid. To characterize this fluid, we have analyzed the proteins that are contained within it. The protein complement comprised a small number of proteins in high concentrations. Proteomics analysis of the constituent proteins identified virtually all of these abundant proteins and confirmed that the subcutaneous gel was very similar in protein composition to plasma. However, the subcutaneous gel was substantially depleted of fibrinogen. It is possible that activation of the final stages of the coagulation process might account for the enhanced viscosity, creating a gel-like material that is relatively immobile in the subcutaneous space. This gel may function as a water volume that is partitioned during embryonic development in order to mitigate the effects of high water content of the egg caused by low mass loss during incubation and in some instances might also function as a water reserve to support the hatchling in the first few hours of life free of the shell.
- Chick Embryo
- Egg Proteins
- Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
- Mass Spectrometry
- Subcutaneous Tissue