Echinoderm eggs as a model for discoveries in cell biology. Academic Article uri icon


  • I happen to have been trained in cell and developmental biology in the early 1970s, which was near the beginning of the explosive growth of the field of cell biology. The American Society for Cell Biology had been founded in 1960 and so the field was in its early days. Cell biology research was dominated by the use of the electron microscope and by protein biochemistry. Molecular biology and the use of genetics were in their infancy. When we track the path of discoveries in cell biology contributed by research using echinoderm eggs, we follow the development of new technologies in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics, bioengineering, and imaging. The changes in approaches and methods have led to many key discoveries in cell biology through the use of sea urchin, sand dollar and sea star eggs. These include the discovery of cyclin, cytoplasmic dynein, rho activation for cytokinesis, new membrane addition as a late event in cytokinesis, multiple kinesins playing multiple roles, how flagella beat, the dynamics of microtubules in the mitotic apparatus, control over centrosomes and cell cycle checkpoints, the process of nuclear envelope breakdown for cell division, the discovery of 1-methyl adenine (hormones) as the trigger for meiotic maturation, Ca++ transients controlling cell activation and exocytosis among others. What I hope to provide in this perspective is to highlight some of those wonderful discoveries as my own career evolved to contribute to the field.

publication date

  • 2019