Previous studies have implicated an 130-kD glycoprotein containing complex, N-linked oligosaccharide chain(s) in the process of spicule formation in sea urchin embryos. To ascertain whether the processing of high mannose oligosaccharides to complex oligosaccharides is necessary for spiculogenesis, intact embryos and cultures of spicule-forming primary mesenchyme cells were treated with glycoprotein processing inhibitors. In both the embryonic and cell culture systems 1-deoxymannojirimycin (1-MMN) and, to a lesser extent, 1-deoxynojirimycin (1-DNJ) inhibited spicule formation. These inhibitors did not affect gastrulation in whole embryos or filopodial network formation in cell cultures. Swainsonine (SWSN) and castanospermine (CSTP) had no effect in either system. Further analysis revealed the following: (a) 1-MMN entered the embryos and blocked glycoprotein processing in the 24-h period before spicule formation as assessed by a twofold increase in endoglycosidase H sensitivity among newly synthesized glycoproteins upon addition of 1-MMN; (b) 1-MMN did not affect general protein synthesis until after its effects on spicule formation were observed; (c) Immunoblot analysis with an antibody directed towards the polypeptide chain of the 130-kD protein (mAb A3) demonstrated that 1-MMN did not affect the level of the polypeptide that is known to be synthesized just before spicule formation; (d) 1-MMN and 1-DNJ almost completely abolished (greater than 95%) the appearance of mAb 1223 reactive complex oligosaccharide moiety associated with the 130-kD glycoprotein; CSTP and SWSN had much less of an effect on expression of this epitope. These results indicate that the conversion of high mannose oligosaccharides to complex oligosaccharides is required for spiculogenesis in sea urchin embryos and they suggest that the 130-kD protein is one of these essential complex glycoproteins.

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