, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 419-442

The coelomic elements of sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus)

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The four coelomocyte classes of the red sea urchin,Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, described by light-microscope studies, are confirmed and the fine structure described. Material examined included fresh, non-aggregated cells; partially aggregated ones that had been heldin vitro up to four days; and aggregated cells heldin vitro for 40 days. Leukocytes from youngin-vitro preparations differed from most fresh leukocytes by having enlarged dense nucleoli and enlarged rough endoplasmic reticulum, which was often filled with secretion, and sometimes connected to the perinuclear cisterna. Leukocytes held 40 daysin vitro were mainly plasmodial. Unlike cells held a limited timein vitro, the 40-day leukocytes had nuclei much like those in fresh preparations.

The three classes of spherule-bearing cells (vibratile cells, red spherule cells, and colorless spherule cells) differed greatly in ultrastructure, and varied in appearance according to the fixative and pH present during fixation. Vibratile-cell spherules were of biphasic construction, suggesting the condition of certain vertebrate mast cells. Red spherule cells occurred in two forms. The most common form in fresh preparations had “despherulated”,i.e., lacked material in the spherules; and the spherules of the second type were filled with either granular or homogeneous material. Colorless spherule cells had evenly and finely granular material in the spherules. Colorless spherule cells were uncommon or missing in material that had been heldin vitro. Certain unidentifiable spherule cells occurred in some preparations.

Although samples are small, it is notable that in May and June, recognizable glycogen was present only in leukocytes that had been heldin vitro, not in any fresh cells. Glycogen occurred in fresh cells of all classes from samples taken in December and February (during or shortly before the normal spawning season ofS. franciscanus). Unlike the cells in fresh preparations made in May, June, and December, fresh leukocytes and vibratile cells taken in February often had extremely lobed nuclei and considerably developed rough endoplasmic reticulum.

This investigation was supported by Public Health Service Research Grant No. 9296 (to P. T.Johnson) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.