The coelomocytes of the sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, may be prevented from clotting with 50 mM ethylene glycol-bis(beta-aminoethyl)-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetate, 50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.8 and subsequently separated into various cell types on sucrose gradients. One cell type, the petaloid coelomocyte, spontaneously undergoes a striking morphological transformation to a form exhibiting numerous, t-in cytoplasmic projections (filopodia). Moreover, the transformation is reversible. Ultrastructurally, the formation of the filopodia results from a progressive reorganization of actin-containing filaments into bundles that are radially oriented. The formation of the filament bundles is initiated at the cell's periphery and proceeds inward. Simultaneously, the cytoplasm in between the bundles is withdrawn, exposing finger-like filopodia. Ultimately, the filopodia can be extended by up to four times their original length. Biochemically, actin is the most abundant protein in while cell homogenates and is extractable in milligram quantities via acetone powders. An actomyosin complex may also be isolated from these cells and is presumed to be active in producing the various forms of motility observed.

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