We have generated and characterized a monoclonal antibody (McA Tg-HYL) that recognizes sea urchin hyalin as evidenced by immunofluorescence staining of the hyaline layer (HL) and immunoblot staining of the hyalin protein band. On immunoblots of HL extracts only the hyalin protein reacted with McA Tg-HYL. Immunoprecipitates of radioactive proteins from embryos incubated with [35S]methionine yielded radioactive hyalin and 190, 140 and 105 × 10(3) Mr proteins associated with hyalin. McA Tg-HYL was generated against Tripneustes gratilla embryos but reacts with hyalin from the distantly related sea urchin species, Colobocentrotus atratus, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, Arbacia punctulata, Lytechinus variegatus and Lytechinus pictus. Developing embryos of the above-mentioned six species were treated with McA Tg-HYL and did not gastrulate or form arms. Observations of treated embryos revealed areas of separation of the hyaline layer from the underlying embryonic cells, suggesting that McA Tg-HYL was interfering with binding of the cells to the HL. Using the centrifugation-based adhesion assay of McClay et al. (Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 78, 4975–4979, 1981), Fab' fragments of McA Tg-HYL were found to inhibit cell-hyalin binding. McA Tg-HYL did not inhibit hyalin gelation in vitro or the reaggregation of dissociated blastula cells. We postulate that McA Tg-HYL recognizes an evolutionarily conserved hyalin domain involved in cell-hyalin binding and required for normal epithelial folding.

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