A Caltech Library Service

Mitochondria and the Development of Sea Urchin Embryos


Craig, Sydney Pollock, III (1970) Mitochondria and the Development of Sea Urchin Embryos. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/AS0V-9678.


After artificial activation or fertilization of non-nucleate fragments or eggs of the sea urchin, the mitochondria actively synthesize RNA. The RNA made in non-nucleate fragments is shown to be mostly single stranded and to be associated primarily with the low speed pellet of centrifuged cellular homogenates.

Protein synthesis is observed in non-nucleate fragments in the presence or absence of the mitochondrial RNA synthesis: it is found to be qualitatively similar but quantitatively less in the absence of the RNA synthesis. The continued syntheses of proteins in the non-nucleate fragments in the absence of mitochondrial RNA synthesis provides additional evidence for the presence of a stable messenger RNA component in the unfertilized sea urchin egg.

Since the uptake or actinomycin D was found to be inhibited by the presence of a fertilization membrane, ethidium bromide, at 10 μgs/ml, is used as an effective inhibitor of RNA synthesis in non-nucleate fragments and in early cleavage stage embryos. However, this same concentration of ethidium bromide is found to be only partially effective in blocking RNA synthesis at the mesenchyme blastula stage of development.

Low concentrations of ethidium bromide (2 and 5 μgs/ml) are found not to be lethal but to be capable of producing moderate developmental defects. In the presence of concentrations of ethidium bromide adequate to inhibit all the mitochondrial RNA synthesis (10 μgs/ml of ethidium bromide), from fertilization on, the embryos do not cleave beyond the 4-8 cell stages. When similar concentrations of ethidium bromide are added at an early mesenchyme blastula stage, the embryos do not gastrulate but continue to swim for more than 24 additional hours (adequate for control embryos to develop to a late prism stage). These results lead to the conclusion that mitochondrial RNA synthesis may be very essential for normal development to occur.

DNA is synthesized in the non-nucleate fragments of sea urchin eggs. None of the newly synthesized DNA is found in the closed circular form. When phenol extracted directly from the fragments, the DNA is found to sediment at approximately 38 and 27s in sucrose gradients but neither of these size classes could be found associated with the isolated mitochondria. The template for the synthesis of DNA in non-nucleate fragments remains unknown.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Developmental Biology and Genetics)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Developmental Biology
Minor Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Tyler, Albert (advisor)
  • Vinograd, Jerome Rubin (advisor)
  • Sinsheimer, Robert L. (advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:21 April 1970
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentUNSPECIFIED
U. S. Public Health ServiceUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08182015-114145046
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9106
Deposited On:25 Aug 2015 21:41
Last Modified:07 May 2024 21:42

Thesis Files

PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page