Cortical granule translocation is microfilament mediated and linked to meiotic maturation in the sea urchin oocyte

Gary M. Wessel, Sean D. Conner, Linnea Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Cortical granules exocytose after the fusion of egg and sperm in most animals, and their contents function in the block to polyspermy by creating an impenetrable extracellular matrix. Cortical granules are synthesized throughout oogenesis and translocate en masse to the cell surface during meiosis where they remain until fertilization. As the mature oocyte is approximately 125 μm in diameter (Lytechinus variegatus), many of the cortical granules translocate upwards of 60 μm to reach the cortex within a 4 hour time window. We have investigated the mechanism of this coordinated vesicular translocation event. Although the stimulus to reinitiate meiosis in sea urchin oocytes is not known, we found many different ways to reversibly inhibit germinal vesicle breakdown, and used these findings to discover that meiotic maturation and cortical granule translocation are inseparable. We also learned that cortical granule translocation requires association with microfilaments but not microtubules. It is clear from endocytosis assays that microfilament motors are functional prior to meiosis, even though cortical granules do not use them. However, just after GVBD, cortical granules attach to microfilaments and translocate to the cell surface. This latter conclusion is based on organelle stratification within the oocyte followed by positional quantitation of the cortical granules. We conclude from these studies that maturation promoting factor (MPF) activation stimulates vesicle association with microfilaments, and is a key regulatory step in the coordinated translocation of cortical granules to the egg cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4315-4325
Number of pages11
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002


  • Cortical granule
  • Endocytosis
  • Meiosis
  • Microfilaments
  • Oocyte maturation
  • Sea urchin
  • cAMP

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