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Ultrastructure of the echinoderm cuticle after fast-freezing/freeze substitution and conventional chemical fixations
Ameye, L.; Hermann, R.; Dubois, P.; Flammang, P. (2000). Ultrastructure of the echinoderm cuticle after fast-freezing/freeze substitution and conventional chemical fixations. Microsc. Res. Tech. 48(6): 385-393.<385::AID-JEMT8>3.0.CO;2-R
In: Microscopy Research and Technique. Wiley-Liss: New York, NY. ISSN 1059-910X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Echinoidea; Asteroidea; fuzzy coat; high pressure freezing; plungefreezing; ruthenium red

Authors  Top 
  • Ameye, L.
  • Hermann, R.
  • Dubois, P., more
  • Flammang, P., more

    The cuticles of the pedicellaria primordia in the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus and of the tube foot disk in the sea star Asterias rubens were preserved by different methods, viz., glutaraldehyde fixation followed by osmium tetroxide postfixation, glutaraldehyde-ruthenium red fixation followed by osmium tetroxide-ruthenium red postfixation, and two fast freezing / freeze substitution methods (FF/FS). The gross ultrastructure of the cuticle as well as the influence of the preservation method on this ultrastructure were identical for the two tissues studied. The cuticle ultrastructure was poorly preserved after glutaraldehyde fixation / osmium tetroxide postfixation. Its preservation was improved after ruthenium red was added in the fixative and postfixative, but the best preservation was consistently achieved using FF/FS. Both low-pressure freezing (plunge freezing) and high-pressure freezing were tested, the latter giving seemingly better results. With these methods, the cuticle appeared to be composed of a proximal lower cuticle, an intermediate upper cuticle, and a distal fuzzy coat. In particular, cryoimmobilization methods emphasized or revealed the occurrence of a well-developed fibrillar lower cuticle in the pedicellaria, the complexity of the upper cuticle which consisted of several zones, and the importance of the usually poorly preserved fuzzy coat that is actually the thickest layer of the cuticle. These observations bring new insights on the functions of the cuticle, and particularly of the fuzzy coat. According to its preservation characteristics, the fuzzy coat presumably consists mostly of proteoglycans. This composition could give it shock absorption and antifouling properties. Furthermore, its important thickness also implies that molecules detected by the short sensory cilia must diffuse through and could be selected by the fuzzy coat.

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