Author(s): Hamaratolu F, Sadler KC, Toner M, Erolu A
Research from many laboratories over the past several decades indicates that invertebrate oocytes and eggs are extraordinarily difficult to freeze. Since starfish oocytes, eggs, and embryos are an important cell and developmental biology model system, there is great interest to cryopreserve these cells. Previous starfish oocyte cryopreservation studies using slow cooling protocols revealed that these cells are highly sensitive to osmotic stress and form intracellular ice at very high sub-zero temperatures, suggesting that common freezing methodologies may not prove useful. We report here that a short exposure to 1.5 M Me2SO/1 M trehalose in hypotonic salt solution followed by ultra-rapid cooling to cryogenic temperatures allows starfish oocytes to be cryopreserved with the average survival rate of 34% when normalized to control oocytes that were exposed to CPA, but not frozen. On average, 51% of the oocytes in 77% of the batches of frozen oocytes underwent meiotic maturation in response to the starfish maturation hormone, 1-methyladenine. In one experiment, eggs developing from thawed oocytes were capable of being fertilized and two developed into embryos. These data suggests that successful cryopreservation of starfish oocytes is possible, but will need further refinement to increase the numbers of fully competent embryos.