The zebrafish egg provides a useful experimental system to study events of fertilization, including exocytosis. We show by differential interference contrast videomicroscopy that cortical granules are: (1) released nonsynchronously over the egg surface and (2) mobilized to the plasma membrane in two phases, depending upon vesicle size and location. Turbidometric assay measurements of the timing and extent of exocytosis revealed a steady release of small granules during the first 30 seconds of egg activation. This was followed by an explosive discharge of large granules, beginning at 30 seconds and continuing for 1–2 minutes. Stages of single granule exocytosis and subsequent remodeling of the egg surface were imaged by either real-time or time-lapse videomicroscopy as well as scanning electron microscopy. Cortical granule translocation and fusion with the plasma membrane were followed by the concurrent expansion of a fusion pore and release of granule contents. A dramatic rearrangement of the egg surface followed exocytosis. Cortical crypts (sites of evacuated granules) displayed a purse-string-like contraction, resulting in their gradual flattening and disappearance from the egg surface. We tested the hypothesis that subplasmalemmal filamentous (F-) actin acts as a physical barrier to secretion and is locally disassembled prior to granule release. Experimental results showed a reduction of rhodamine-phalloidin and antimyosin staining at putative sites of secretion, acceleration of the timing and extent of granule release in eggs pretreated with cytochalasin D, and dose-dependent inhibition of exocytosis in permeabilized eggs preincubated with phalloidin. An increase in assembled actin was detected by fluorometric assay during the period of exocytosis. Localization studies showed that F-actin and myosin-II codistributed with an inward-moving, membrane-delimited zone of cytoplasm that circumscribed cortical crypts during their transformation. Furthermore, cortical crypts displayed a distinct delay in transformation when incubated continuously with cytochalasin D following egg activation. We propose that closure of cortical crypts is driven by a contractile ring whose forces depend upon dynamic actin filaments and perhaps actomyosin interactions.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists