The jelly surrounding the eggs of the starfish, Asterias forbesi, is insoluble in normal sea water, but rapidly swells and dissolves when the eggs are washed in a pure isotonic solution of NaCl. In the presence of a small proportion of CaCl2 this solvent and disintegrative action of the NaCl solution is entirely prevented, and in the mixed solution the jelly exhibits the same insolubility and other properties as in normal sea water.

2. This action of CaCl2 in preventing the dissolution of the jelly runs parallel with its action in preventing certain definite effects of the pure NaCl solution on the living egg (agglutination, cytolytic action, membrane formation, prevention of maturation).

3. The inference is that the essential factor in these and similar antagonistic and protective actions is the formation of solid water-insoluble colloidal salts (e.g., soaps and proteinates) of calcium (or other metal) with the structural colloids of the protoplasm. Apparently the presence of a certain proportion of such compounds is necessary to the structural stability of the living protoplasm, and especially to the water-insolubility and semipermeability of its external layer or plasma membrane. When the cell is immersed in the pure NaCl solution, water-soluble Na compounds are substituted for the insoluble Ca compounds which normally provide the necessary insolubility and coherence, and disintegration results.

This content is only available as a PDF.