We report on the internal ultrastructure of long, finger-like microvilli which cover the surface of the fertilized sea urchin egg. Eggs were attached to polylysine-coated surfaces; their upper portions were sheared away with a stream of buffer which left behind only their plasma membranes and adjacent cytoplasmic structures. Scanning electron microscopy (EM) of such fragments revealed intact thin protoplasmic projections radiating away from the body of the cortex. By transmission EM of cortices similarly prepared on grids, small bundles of microfilaments appear as cores within the thin cytoplasmic projections. These microfilaments are shown to be composed of actin by their ability to interact with muscle heavy meromyosin (HMM). HMM-decorated microfilaments possess repeating arrowheads which uniformly point toward the cell interior. Actin bundles in the microvilli of sea urchin eggs may mediate microvillus support and elongation.

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