Characterization of sea urchin yolk glycoproteins

Leanne Brooks Scott, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


To study the fate of the yolk glycoproteins found in eggs and embryos of the sea urchin, S. purpuratus, a polyclonal antibody to a 90-kDa polymannose glycoprotein was prepared. lmmunoblot analysis of total proteins over the course of development showed that this antibody recognized a family of glycoproteins. Concomitant with the disappearance of the major 160-kDa egg yolk glycoprotein during embryogenesis, glycoproteins with a lower molecular mass appeared. These glycoproteins (115, 108, 90, 83, and 68 kDa) were purified and peptide mapping revealed that they were cleavage products derived from the major yolk glycoprotein. The antibody identified a homologous set of yolk glycoproteins with similar molecular masses in the embryos of three other species in the class Echinoidea: L. pictus, A. punctulata, and D. excentricus. However, eggs from other echinoderm classes and from chicken, frog, fruit fly, and nematode did not contain any cross-reactive molecules. Cross-reactivity within the class Echinoidea was not due to a common carbohydrate epitope, because the antibody recognized the glycoproteins even after the N-linked, polymannose carbohydrate side chains were enzymatically removed. The major yolk glycoprotein (160-170 kDa) from each of the three sea urchin species was purified and analyzed, revealing striking similarities in pI and in amino acid and monosaccharide composition. Peptide mapping showed that the 160-kDa glycoprotein from the four echinoids are structurally homologous. The major yolk glycoprotein appeared to be proteolyzed by a thiol protease, which could be activated in yolk particles prepared from unfertilized eggs by low pH. Immunolocalization by electron microscopy in S. purpuratus showed that the yolk glycoproteins remained within the yolk platelet throughout embryonic development, and that externalization of the glycoproteins was not detectable. The yolk glycoprotein precursor began to be synthesized in premetamorphosis larvae, and continued in adult males and females. Both the yolk glycoproteins and the yolk platelets disappeared during larval development. This disappearance has special significance because there were no yolk proteins in the direct developing sea urchin, H. erthryogramma, which bypasses larval development and metamorphoses directly into an adult.

Subject Area

Biochemistry|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Scott, Leanne Brooks, "Characterization of sea urchin yolk glycoproteins" (1989). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8924476.