Elongated microvilli support the sea urchin embryo concentrically within the perivitelline space until hatching

Research paper by Evelyn Spiegel, Louisa Howard, Melvin Spiegel

Indexed on: 01 Jun '89Published on: 01 Jun '89Published in: Development Genes and Evolution


The early sea urchin embryo is supported in a concentric position within the perivitelline space by elongated microvilli which are attached to the fertilization envelope by extracellular matrix fibers. This “attachment complex,” of microvillus tip: extracellular matrix fibers: fertilization envelope, was revealed by two methods: the use of pronase or calcium-free sea water to dissolve the extracellular matrix fibers, thus causing the eggs to lose their concentric location, and the visualization of the “attachment complex” using video-enhanced differential interference contrast microscopy and transmission electron microscope images. The presence of the “attachment complex” helps in understanding two types of early developmental events: (1) the apparently continual change in microvillus length during cleavage stages which retains the embryos in their concentric position and (2) the hatching process.