a1 Department of Anatomy, University of Iowa, USA and Tokyo Institute of Tehnology, Japan.
Maturation of the starfish oocyte cortex to produce an effective cortical granule reaction and fertilisation envelope is believed to develop in three phases: (1) pre-methyladenine (1-MA) stimulation; (2) post-1-MA stimulation, pregerminal vesicle breakdown; and (3) post-germinal vesicle breakdown. The present study was initiated to identify what each of these phases may encompass, specifically with respect to structures associated with the oocyte cortex, including cortical granules, microvilli and vitelline layer. 1-MA treatment brought about an orientation of cortical granules such that they became positioned perpendicular to the oocyte surface, and an 4-fold decrease in microvillar length. A-23187 activation of immature oocytes treated with (10 min; pregerminal vesicle breakdown) or without 1-MA resulted in a reduction in cortical granule number of 21% and 41%, respectively (mature oocytes underwent a 96% reduction in cortical granules). Elevation of the fertilisation envelope in both cases was significantly retarded compared with activated mature oocytes. In activated mature oocytes, the vitelline layer elevated 20.0 ± 5.4 μm from the egg's surface, whereas in immature oocytes treated with just A-23187 or with 1-MA (10 min) and A-23187, it lifted 0.35 ± 0.1 and 0.17 ± 0.04 μm, respectively. The fertilisation envelopes of activated (or fertilised) immature oocytes also differed morphologically from those of mature oocytes. In activated, immature oocytes, the fertilisation envelope was not uniform in its thickness and possessed thick and thin regions as well as fenestrations. Additionally, it lacked a complete electron-dense stratum that characterised the fertilisation envelopes of mature oocytes. The nascent perivitelline space of immature oocytes was also distinguished by the presence of numerous vesicles which appeared to be derived from microvilli. Differences in the morphology of cortices from activated (fertilised) and non-activated, immature and mature oocytes substantiate previous investigations demonstrating three phases of cortical maturation, and are consistent with physiological changes that occur during oocyte maturation, involving ionic conductance of the plasma membrane, establishment of slow and fast blocks to polyspermy and elevation of a fertilisation envelope.
(Received May 12 1995)
(Accepted May 31 1995)
c1 Frank J. Longo, Department of Anatomy, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.
1 Department of Anatomy, University of Iowa, Iowa city, IA 52242, USA.
2 Department of Life Sceience, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Nagatsuta, Midoriku, Yokohama 227, Japan.