A functional genomic and proteomic perspective of sea urchin calcium signaling and egg activation.

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Abstract or Description

The sea urchin egg has a rich history of contributions to our understanding of fundamental questions of egg activation at fertilization. Within seconds of sperm-egg interaction, calcium is released from the egg endoplasmic reticulum, launching the zygote into the mitotic cell cycle and the developmental program. The sequence of the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus genome offers unique opportunities to apply functional genomic and proteomic approaches to investigate the repertoire and regulation of Ca(2+) signaling and homeostasis modules present in the egg and zygote. The sea urchin "calcium toolkit" as predicted by the genome is described. Emphasis is on the Ca(2+) signaling modules operating during egg activation, but the Ca(2+) signaling repertoire has ramifications for later developmental events and adult physiology as well. Presented here are the mechanisms that control the initial release of Ca(2+) at fertilization and additional signaling components predicted by the genome and found to be expressed and operating in eggs at fertilization. The initial release of Ca(2+) serves to coordinate egg activation, which is largely a phenomenon of post-translational modifications, especially dynamic protein phosphorylation. Functional proteomics can now be used to identify the phosphoproteome in general and specific kinase targets in particular. This approach is described along with findings to date. Key outstanding questions regarding the activation of the developmental program are framed in the context of what has been learned from the genome and how this knowledge can be applied to functional studies.




Published In

Developmental biology, 300, 1, 416-433.