Cross-coupling between voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels and ryanodine receptors in developing ascidian muscle blastomeres. (1/713)

1. Ascidian blastomeres of muscle lineage express voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs) despite isolation and cleavage arrest. Taking advantage of these large developing cells, developmental changes in functional relations between VDCC currents and intracellular Ca2+ stores were studied. 2. Inactivation of ascidian VDCCs is Ca2+ dependent, as demonstrated by two pieces of evidence: (1) a bell-shaped relationship between prepulse voltage and amplitude during the test pulse in Ca2+, but not in Ba2+, and (2) the decay kinetics of Ca2+ currents (ICa) obtained as the size of tail currents. 3. During replacement in the external solution of Ca2+ with Ba2+, the inward current appeared biphasic: it showed rapid decay followed by recovery and slow decay. This current profile was most evident in the mixed bath solution (2 % Ca2+ and 98 % Ba2+, abbreviated to '2Ca/98Ba'). 4. The biphasic profile of I2Ca/98Ba was significantly attenuated in caffeine and in ryanodine, indicating that Ca2+ release is involved in shaping the current kinetics of VDCCs. After washing out the caffeine, the biphasic pattern was reproducibly restored by depolarizing the membrane in calcium-rich solution, which is expected to refill the internal Ca2+ stores. 5. The inhibitors of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+-ATPase (SERCAs) cyclopiazonic acid (CPA) and thapsigargin facilitated elimination of the biphasic profile with repetitive depolarization. 6. At a stage earlier than 36 h after fertilization, the biphasic profile of I2Ca/98Ba was not observed. However, caffeine induced a remarkable decrease in the amplitude of I2Ca/98Ba and this suppression was blocked by microinjection of the Ca2+ chelator BAPTA, showing the presence of caffeine-sensitive Ca2+ stores at this stage. 7. Electron microscopic observation shows that sarcoplasmic membranes (SR) arrange closer to the sarcolemma with maturation, suggesting that the formation of the ultrastructural machinery underlies development of the cross-coupling between VDCCs and Ca2+ stores.  (+info)

Liposomes fuse with sperm cells and induce activation by delivery of impermeant agents. (2/713)

Sperm cell activation is a critical step in fertilization. To directly investigate the cell signaling events leading to sperm activation it is necessary to deliver membrane impermeant agents into the cytoplasm. In this study, the use of liposomes as possible agent-loading vectors was examined using (1) the octadecylrhodamine B (R18) and NBD phosphatidylethanolamine (NBD DHPE)/rhodamine phosphatidylethanolamine (rhod DHPE) fusion assays in bulk samples, (2) membrane transfer of fluorescence from liposome membranes labeled with R18 and rhodamine-tagged phosphatidylethanolamine (TRITC DHPE), and (3) lumenal transfer of impermeant calcium ions from liposomes to sperm cells, a process that stimulated sperm cell activation. Intermediate-sized unilamellar liposomes (98.17+/-15.34 nm) were prepared by the detergent-removal technique using sodium cholate as the detergent and a phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylethanolamine/cholesterol (2:1:1 mole ratio) lipid composition. In the R18 fusion assays, self-quenching increased logarithmically with increasing concentrations of R18 in the liposome membranes; addition of unlabeled sperm to R18-labeled liposomes lead to a rapid release of self-quenching. In the NBD DHPE/rhod DHPE resonance energy transfer (RET) fusion assay, RET was rapidly reduced under similar conditions. In addition, individual sperm became fluorescent when TRITC DHPE-labeled liposomes were incubated with unlabeled sperm cells. Incubation of sperm cells with empty liposomes did not significantly affect sperm cell activation and did not alter cell morphology. However, incubation with Ca (10 mM)-loaded liposomes resulted in a time-dependent increase in sperm cell activation (7.5-fold over controls after 15 min). We conclude that liposomes can be used for direct loading of membrane-impermeant agents into sea squirt sperm cell cytoplasm, and that delivery occurs via fusion and content intermixing.  (+info)

A multigene locus containing the Manx and bobcat genes is required for development of chordate features in the ascidian tadpole larva. (3/713)

The Manx gene is required for the development of the tail and other chordate features in the ascidian tadpole larva. To determine the structure of the Manx gene, we isolated and sequenced genomic clones from the tailed ascidian Molgula oculata. The Manx gene contains 9 exons and encodes both major and minor Manx mRNAs, which differ in the length of their 5' untranslated regions. The coding region of the single-copy bobcat gene, which encodes a DEAD-box RNA helicase, is embedded within the first Manx intron. The organization of the bobcat and Manx transcription units was determined by comparing genomic and cDNA clones. The Manx-bobcat gene locus has an unusual organization in which a non-coding first exon is alternatively spliced at the 5' end of two different mRNAs. The bobcat and Manx genes are expressed coordinately during oogenesis and embryogenesis, but not during spermatogenesis, in which bobcat mRNA accumulates independently of Manx mRNA. Similar to Manx, zygotic bobcat transcripts accumulate in the embryonic primordia responsible for generating chordate features, including the dorsal neural tube and notochord, are downregulated during embryogenesis in the tailless species Molgula occulta and are upregulated in M. occulta X M. oculata hybrids, which restore these chordate features. Antisense experiments indicate that zygotic bobcat expression is required for development of the same suite of chordate features as Manx. The results show that the Manx-bobcat gene complex has a role in the development of chordate features in ascidian tadpole larvae.  (+info)

A unique primary structure, cDNA cloning and function of a galactose-specific lectin from ascidian plasma. (4/713)

The complete amino acid sequence of a galactose-specific lectin from the plasma of the ascidian Halocynthia roretzi has been determined by sequential Edman degradation analysis of peptide fragments derived by proteolytic fragmentation and chemical cleavage of the reductive S-pyridylethylated lectin. Peptide fragments were separated by reverse-phase HPLC. The N-terminal and C-terminal amino acid sequences were determined by Edman degradation and enzymatic digestion. The H. roretzi plasma lectin is a single-chain protein consisting of 327 amino acids and four disulfide bonds, one of which was found to be cross-linked intramolecularly. A comparison of the amino acid sequence of the H. roretzi plasma lectin with the sequences of other proteins reveals that the H. roretzi lectin has a structure consisting of a twice-repeated sequence, a fibrinogen-related sequence and a C-type lectin-homologous sequence. The above amino acid sequence was verified by cDNA cloning of this lectin. Three cDNA clones that have single ORFs encoding the lectin precursor were isolated from an H. roretzi hepatopancreas cDNA library. The deduced amino acid sequences in the three cDNA clones contain the same sequence of the mature lectin molecule and the same putative signal sequence. In addition, it was demonstrated that this lectin can enhance phagocytosis by H. roretzi hemocytes. Thus, the plasma lectin is constructed into an oligomer structure via intermolecular disulfide bonds and plays a role in the biological defense of H. roretzi as a defense molecule.  (+info)

Antibodies with the cell-type specificity to the morula cells of the solitary ascidians Styela rustica and Boltenia echinata. (5/713)

The separation of the blood cells of Styela rustica (Styelidae, Stolidobranchiae) in discontinuous Percoll gradient showed 4 fractions. The 4th and bottom most fraction contained 90-100% of morula cells. The protein composition of the morula cell fraction revealed on SDS-PAGE showed two major proteins with m.w. 47 and 26 kDa. These proteins were heavily positively charged. Polyclonal antiserums against these proteins were raised. Each antiserum reacted with both proteins only in morula cells on the blot after SDS-PAGE and stained the proper protein without crossreaction on the blot after AU-PAGE. The only type of cells stained with antibodies in circulating blood, in the tunic and on the tunic wound surface in paraffin sections of another species Boltenia echinata (Pyuridae, Stolidobranchiae) were morula cells. The morula-type specific antibodies obtained recognized major positively charged proteins which were apparently structural substrates for the phenoloxidase tanning.  (+info)

The centrosome-attracting body, microtubule system, and posterior egg cytoplasm are involved in positioning of cleavage planes in the ascidian embryo. (6/713)

Many kinds of animal embryos exhibit stereotyped cleavage patterns during early embryogenesis. In the ascidian Halocynthia roretzi, cleavage patterns are invariant but they are complicated by successive unequal cleavages that occur in the posterior region. Here we report the essential roles of a novel structure, called the centrosome-attracting body (CAB), which exists in the posterior pole cortex of cleaving embryos, in generating unequal cleavages. By removing and transplanting posterior egg cytoplasm and by treatment with sodium dodecyl sulfate, we demonstrated that loss of the CAB resulted in abolishment of unequal cleavage, while ectopic formation of the CAB caused ectopic unequal cleavages to occur. Experiments with a microtubule inhibitor demonstrated that the centrosome and nucleus were attracted toward the posterior cortex, where the CAB is located, by shortening of microtubule bundles formed between the centrosome and the CAB. Consequently, the mitotic apparatus was positioned asymmetrically, resulting in unequal cleavage. Immunohistochemistry provided evidence that a microtubule motor protein, a kinesin or kinesin-like molecule, may be associated with the CAB. Formation of the CAB during the early cleavage stage was resistant to treatment with the microtubule inhibitor. In contrast, the integrity of the CAB was lost upon treatment with a microfilament inhibitor. We propose that the CAB plays key roles in the orientation and positioning of cleavage planes during unequal cell division.  (+info)

Developmental expression of Pax1/9 genes in urochordate and hemichordate gills: insight into function and evolution of the pharyngeal epithelium. (7/713)

The epithelium of the pharynx contributes to the formation of gills in hemichordates, urochordates, cephalochordates and primitive vertebrates, and is therefore a key structure for understanding developmental mechanisms underlying the establishment of chordate body plans. Pax1- and Pax9-related genes encode transcription factors which are expressed in the pharyngeal region of cephalochordates as well as in the vertebrate pharyngeal pouch epithelium that forms the thymus and parathyroid glands. To explore the molecular basis underlying the occurrence and modifications of the pharyngeal epithelium during evolution, we isolated cDNA clones for Pax1- and Pax9-related genes of urochordates (HrPax1/9 of Halocynthia roretzi and CiPax1/9 of Ciona intestinalis) and a hemichordate (PfPax1/9 of Ptychodera flava) from gill cDNA libraries. Each gene is present as a single copy per haploid genome. All of the cDNAs encode typical paired domains and octapeptides but not a homeodomain, as is also true of other Pax1- and Pax9-related genes. Molecular phylogenetic analysis based on comparison of the paired domain amino-acid sequences suggests that HrPax1/9, CiPax1/9 and PfPax1/9 belong to the Pax1/9 subfamily, and that they are descendants of a single precursor of Pax1/Pax9. Screening of HrPax1/9 cDNA clones yielded six different types of transcripts which were generated by alternative splicing. Northern blot, RT-PCR/Southern and in situ hybridization analyses revealed that HrPax1/9, CiPax1/9 and PfPax1/9 are not expressed during early embryogenesis but are expressed in the epithelia of differentiating gills, suggesting that these genes encode gill-specific transcription factors. The Pax1/9 genes therefore might provide the first developmental genetic corroboration of hypotheses of organ-level homology that unifies hemichordates, urochordates and cephalochordates.  (+info)

Identification and characterization of maternally expressed genes with mRNAs that are segregated with the endoplasm of early ascidian embryos. (8/713)

Endoderm cells of the ascidian embryo are specified autonomously dependent on maternal cytoplasmic information or determinants that are localized in the endoplasm. In the present study, we identified three maternally expressed genes (CsEndo-1, CsEndo-2 and CsEndo-3) by screening a cDNA library of Ciona savignyi fertilized egg mRNAs subtracted with gastrula mRNAs. CsEndo-1 encoded a protein with nuclear localization signals, CsEndo-3 predicted a protein containing both a potential transmembrane domain and the PDZ domain, and CsEndo-2 suggested a protein with no similarity to known proteins. The maternal transcripts of all of these genes were not concentrated during early stages of embryogenesis up to the 8-cell stage, but were concentrated at the endoplasmic region by the 16-cell stage and then segregated later with the endoplasm. At the 110-cell stage, the maternal transcript of CsEndo-1 was evident only in the primordial endoderm cells, while those of CsEndo-2 and CsEndo-3 were found in the primordial endoderm cells as well as the primordial notochord cells. All of the transcripts became barely detectable during gastrulation and neurulation. Later, zygotic expression of the three genes became evident again in the endoderm and notochord cells, suggesting developmental roles in the formation of these types of cell. Although we were not able to deduce their functions, this is the first report of maternal genes with mRNAs that are segregated with the endoplasm of ascidian embryos.  (+info)