Int. J. Dev. Biol. 52: 571 - 584 (2008)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072560ls
© UPV/EHU Press

The role of the actin cytoskeleton in calcium signaling in starfish oocytes

Luigia Santella*, Agostina Puppo and Jong Tai Chun

Cell Signaling Laboratory, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Napoli, Italy

ABSTRACT Ca2+ is the most universal second messenger in cells from the very first moment of fertilization. In all animal species, fertilized eggs exhibit massive mobilization of intracellular Ca2+ to orchestrate the initial events of development. Echinoderm eggs have been an excellent model system for studying fertilization and the cell cycle due to their large size and abundance. In preparation for fertilization, the cell cycle-arrested oocytes must undergo meiotic maturation. Studies of starfish oocytes have shown that Ca2+ signaling is intimately involved in this process. Our knowledge of the molecular mechanism of meiotic maturation and fertilization has expanded greatly in the past two decades due to the discovery of cell cycle-related kinases and Ca2+-mobilizing second messengers. However, the molecular details of their actions await elucidation of other cellular elements that assist in the creation and transduction of Ca2+ signals. In this regard, the actin cytoskeleton, the receptors for second messengers and the Ca2+-binding proteins also require more attention. This article reviews the physiological significance and the mechanism of intracellular Ca2+ mobilization in starfish oocytes during maturation and fertilization.

Keywords:

cell activation, sperm-egg interaction, meiosis, germinal vesicle, cyclic ADP ribose, NAADP

*Corresponding author e-mail: santella@szn.it