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J Exp Zool. 1987 Oct;244(1):89-100.

Relationship between nuclear DNA synthesis and centrosome reproduction in sea urchin eggs.

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Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Inc., Shrewsbury, Massachusetts 01545.


The importance of nuclear DNA synthesis for the doubling, or reproduction, of centrosomes in cells that are not growth-limited, such as sea urchin eggs, has not been clearly defined. Studies of enucleated, fertilized eggs show that nuclear activities are not required at each cell cycle for the normal reproduction of the complete centrosome. However, other studies report that the inhibition of nuclear DNA synthesis in intact eggs by the drug aphidicolin prevents centrosome reproduction and entry into mitosis as seen by nuclear envelope breakdown. To resolve this paradox, we systematically characterized the effect of aphidicolin on cell division in eggs from three species of sea urchins. Eggs were continuously treated with 5 or 10 micrograms/ml aphidicolin starting 5 min after fertilization. This blocked total incorporation of 3H-thymidine into DNA by at least 90%, as previously reported. We found that the sperm aster always doubles prior to first mitosis. Over a period of several hours, the centrosomes reproduce in the normal 2-4-8-16 fashion, with a period that is longer and more variable than normal. In every culture, a variable percentage of the eggs undergoes nuclear envelope breakdown. Once broken down, the nuclear envelope never visibly reforms even though centrosomes continue to double. Fluorescent labeling of DNA revealed that the chromatin does not condense into discrete chromosomes. Whether or not the nuclear envelope breaks down, the chromatin appears as an amorphous mass of fibers stretched between first two and then four asters. Later, the nuclear envelope/chromatin loses its association with some or all centrosomes. Our results were the same for all eggs at both drug concentrations. Thus, nuclear DNA synthesis is not required for centrosome reproduction in sea urchin eggs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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