Actin-mediated retraction of the larval epidermis during metamorphosis of the sand dollar, Dendraster excentricus

Cell Tissue Res. 1985;239(3):589-97. doi: 10.1007/BF00219237.


During the first 15 to 20 min of metamorphosis the larval arms are retracted and resorbed into the aboral surface of the juvenile. Arms excised from metamorphosing larvae will undergo a sequence of contraction and histolysis that is identical to that occurring in intact larvae. Prior to and during metamorphosis, epidermal cells contain bundles of 5 to 7-nm microfilaments in arrays radiating apically from the base of the cells. Sparse microfilaments also occur near the plasmalemma of epidermal cells and some mesenchymal cells in larvae fixed during metamorphosis. Contraction of excised arms is reversibly inhibited by treatment with cytochalasin B, and microfilaments bind myosin sub-fragment-1. Indirect immunofluorescence of larval arms using an antibody against chicken-muscle actin and staining with the F-actin specific probe, NDB phallacidin indicate that the arms contain actin distributed in a manner consistent with ultrastructural findings. It is proposed that retraction of the larval arms during metamorphosis is produced by an actin-mediated change in shape of the epidermal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Epidermis / ultrastructure
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Larva
  • Metamorphosis, Biological*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Sea Urchins / growth & development*


  • Actins