Spindle pole centrosomes of sea urchin embryos are partially composed of material recruited from maternal stores

Jon Holy, Gerald Schatten

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33 Scopus citations


The spindle poles of fertilized sea urchin eggs have commonly been modeled as being derived from the centrosomes of the fertilizing spermatozoon. Boveri's theory of fertilization, proposed at the turn of the century, states that the maternal centrosome is suppressed or inactivated during oogenesis and that the sperm centrosome is functionally dominant. In support of this proposal, more recent studies have shown that the sperm imports a determinant that is involved in centrosomal replication. Examination of sea urchin zygotes immunofluorescently labeled with a new anti-centrosomal antibody by quantitative confocal laser-scanning microscopy shows, however, that spindle pole centrosomes are not exclusively paternal structures, but additionally contain material derived from maternal pools. Furthermore, this maternal centrosomal material is divided among daughter blastomeres during cleavage. It therefore appears that although the sperm centrosome plays a dominant role in organizing the spindle poles, much of the centrosomal material within the spindle poles of the zygote is actually recruited from preexisting egg cytoplasmic stores. These data indicate that centrosomes of sea urchin embryos are biparentally derived, composite organelles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-353
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the helpful discussions and suggestions of Drs. Heide Schatten, Cal Simerly, Shirley Wright, and Stephen Stricker. mab4D2 was generated by Cathy Thompson-Coffe and Dr. Gerard Coffe. The assistance of Dr. Stephen Paddock and Peter DeVries of the Integrated Microscopy Resource with confocal laser-scanning microscopy and computer processing techniques is gratefully acknowledged. This research was supported by grants from the NIH to G.S. and by postdoctoral NIH-NRSA GM12835 to J.H. The Integrated Microscopy Resource is funded as an NIH Biomedical Research Technical Resource.


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