Rat eggs treated with the calcium ionophore A23187 and subjected to long‐term observation by phase microscopy were found to undergo many developmental changes that are normally associated with fertilization. These included cortical granule exocytosis and the abstriction of the second polar body. In addition, time‐lapse video microscopy revealed that, unlike untreated eggs, whose surfaces remained relatively immotile, the ionophore‐treated eggs underwent a lengthy period of surface undulatory activity. Since all of these events were remarkably similar in timing and morphology to those seen in fertilized eggs, we conclude that A23187 is capable of activating rat eggs. Using NBD‐phallacidin, the distribution of F‐actin in ionophore‐activated eggs was determined. During most of the postactivation period the eggs possessed an uninterrupted, uniform band of polymerized actin encompassing the entire cortex of the egg. However, during a discrete 1.5‐h period after the formation of the second polar body, an area adjacent to the region of polar body abstriction exhibited more intense staining than the rest of the cortex. Cytochalasin B treatment caused a dramatic reduction and/or rearrangement in cortical NBD‐phallacidin staining in activated eggs as compared to activated controls not exposed to the drug. We observed that all the developmental changes described above could be produced in the absence of exogenous calcium, suggesting that the rat egg possesses internal stores of calcium sufficient to elicit an activational response. We conclude that the ionophore‐induced release of free calcium ions into the cytosol stimulates many of the developmental changes that are normally seen during fertilization. These results indicate that calcium influx and cytoskeletal activity are correlated during the activation of this animal egg.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology