Calcium and Calcium-Linked Second Messengers are Main Actors in the Maturation and Fertilization of Starfish Oocytes



Since the early studies on sea urchin egg activation [1] and on starfish oocytes [2], to the more recent discoveries of the Ca2+-mobilizing activities of cyclic ADP-ribose (cADPR) and nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAADP) in sea urchin egg homogenates [3–6], echinoderm gametes have remained a widely investigated system in the area of egg activation. In addition to fertilization, and at variance with sea urchin, starfish oocytes have also provided an exceptional model to investigate the re-initiation of the meiotic cycle (e.g., maturation) due to their synchrony, transparency and ease of handling. Maturation, which is induced by the hormone 1-methyladenine, takes these oocytes from the germinal vesicle stage (4n chromosomes, first prophase stage of meiosis) where they remain arrested to the spawning period at which they can be fertilized. During meiosis, reinitiated oocytes undergo a number of structural and biochemical changes, which prepare them for successful fertilization. Thus, oocytes have been a useful tool in investigations of the intracellular mechanisms regulating the prophase/metaphase transition. They are also a unique source of highly purified cell cycle control elements e.g., purified M-phase promoting factor [7, 8].


Oocyte Maturation Germinal Vesicle Immature Oocyte Inositol Trisphosphate Meiotic Maturation 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Cell BiologyStazione Zoologica “A. Dohrn”NaplesItaly

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