Studies are described of the ultrastructure of the follicle cells which invest the oocyte of Drosophila melanogaster at the time of vitelline membrane formation. Of particular interest are organelles made up of endoplasmic reticulum organized into a husk of concentric lamellae which surround lipidal droplets. These epithelial bodies are seen only at the time the vitelline membrane is being formed, and it is assumed therefore that the lipidal material of the epithelial body may be utilized somehow in the fabrication of the vitelline membrane. Cytochemical studies have shown this membrane to contain at least 5 classes of compounds; a protein, two lipids (which may be distinguished by differences in their resistance to extraction by various solvents), and 2 polysaccharides (1 neutral and 1 acidic). Studies were made of vitelline membrane formation in the ovaries of flies homozygous for either of 2 recessive, female-sterile genes (tiny and female sterile). In the case of the ty mutation vitelline membrane material is sometimes secreted between follicle and nurse cells, while in the mutant fes vitelline membrane is observed in rare instances to be secreted between follicle cells and an adjacent layer of tumour cells. In the latter case the vitelline membrane shows altered cytochemical properties. The fact that vitelline membrane can be secreted by follicle cells not adjacent to an oocyte demonstrates that it is the follicle cell rather than the oocyte that plays the major role in the secretion of the precursor material of the vitelline membrane. Subsequently the follicle cells secrete the egg-shell, or chorion, which is subdivided into a dense, compartmented, inner endochorion, and a pale, outer exochorion. A description is given of the ultrastructure of the follicle cells during the secretion of the endochorion and the exochorion. The endochorion contains a protein, a polysaccharide, and a lipid, all of which may be distinguished cytochemically from the vitelline membrane compounds. The exochorion contains large amounts of acidic mucopolysaccharides. Specialized follicle cells form the micropylar apparatus and the chorionic appendages. The formation of the chorion and chorionic appendages is discussed in the light of information gained from abnormalities of the chorions and chorionic appendages seen in ty and fs 2.1 oocytes. Subsequent to the time the egg leaves the ovariole a layer of waterproofing wax is secreted between the vitelline membrane and the chorion.

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