Effects of seawater acidification on cell cycle control mechanisms in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus embryos

Previous studies have shown fertilization and development of marine species can be significantly inhibited when the pH of sea water is artificially lowered. Little mechanistic understanding of these effects exists to date, but previous work has linked developmental inhibition to reduced cleavage rates in embryos. To explore this further, we tested whether common cell cycle checkpoints were involved using three cellular biomarkers of cell cycle progression: (1) the onset of DNA synthesis, (2) production of a mitotic regulator, cyclin B, and (3) formation of the mitotic spindle. We grew embryos of the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, in seawater artifically buffered to a pH of ~7.0, 7.5, and 8.0 by CO2 infusion. Our results suggest the reduced rates of mitotic cleavage are likely unrelated to common cell cycle checkpoints. We found no significant differences in the three biomarkers assessed between pH treatments, indicating the embryos progress through the G1/S, G2/M and metaphase/anaphase transitions at relatively similar rates. These data suggest low pH environments may not impact developmental programs directly, but may act through secondary mechanisms such as cellular energetics.

Place S. P., & Smith B. W., 2012. Effects of Seawater Acidification on Cell Cycle Control Mechanisms in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus Embryos. PLoS ONE 7(3): e34068. Article (subscription required).

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