Redistribution of actin and fascin in sea urchin eggs after fertilization

Cell Motil. 1980;1(1):31-40. doi: 10.1002/cm.970010104.


Following fertilization, the sea urchin egg cortex undergoes a structural change involving the assembly and organization of actin filaments into microvilli. Antifascin localizes this actin cross-linking protein in the microvilli of the fertilized egg cortex but no organized staining is present in the unfertilized cortex. Determination of the actin content of eggs using the DNAase I inhibition assay indicates that actin is about 1.4% of the total protein. Approximately 90% of this actin is soluble in low calcium isotonic extracts of unfertilized eggs while only 60-65% can be recovered in identical extracts of fertilized eggs. Similar measurements for fascin using a radioimmunoassay indicate this molecule represents about 0.3% of the total egg protein, essentially all of which is recovered in low calcium isotonic extracts of unfertilized eggs. After fertilization only 65-70% of this actin cross-linking protein is in the soluble phase. These results demonstrate a markedly different solubility for actin and fascin after fertilization, when the indirect immunofluorescence staining localizes fascin in the microvilli, and are consistent with the idea that fascin organizes newly polymerized actin filaments into the microvillar cores. A consideration of the amounts of actin and fascin incorporated into the cortex after fertilization and the number of microvilli on the egg surface indicates that the measured values are sufficient to account for the observed microvillar elongation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Egg Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fertilization*
  • Microfilament Proteins*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microvilli / metabolism
  • Ovum / metabolism*
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Sea Urchins / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Egg Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • fascin