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J Struct Biol 1999 Mar 01;1251:50-62. doi: 10.1006/jsbi.1998.4081.
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Cellular control over spicule formation in sea urchin embryos: A structural approach.

Beniash E , Addadi L , Weiner S .

The spicules of the sea urchin embryo form in intracellular membrane-delineated compartments. Each spicule is composed of a single crystal of calcite and amorphous calcium carbonate. The latter transforms with time into calcite by overgrowth of the preexisting crystal. Relationships between the membrane surrounding the spiculogenic compartment and the spicule mineral phase were studied in the transmission electron microscope (TEM) using freeze-fracture. In all the replicas observed the spicules were tightly surrounded by the membrane. Furthermore, a variety of structures that are related to the material exchange process across the membrane were observed. The spiculogenic cells were separated from other cell types of the embryo, frozen, and freeze-dried on the TEM grids. The contents of electron-dense granules in the spiculogenic cells were shown by electron diffraction to be composed of amorphous calcium carbonate. These observations are consistent with the notion that the amorphous calcium carbonate-containing granules contain the precursor mineral phase for spicule formation and that the membrane surrounding the forming spicule is involved both in transport of material and in controlling spicule mineralization.

PubMed ID: 10196116
Article link: J Struct Biol

Genes referenced: LOC100887844 LOC115919910