Formation and structure of egg envelopes in Russian sturgeon Acipenser gueldenstaedtii (Acipenseriformes: Acipenseridae)
The covering of the eggs in Russian sturgeon Acipenser gueldenstaedtii consists of three envelopes (the vitelline envelope, chorion and extrachorion) and is equipped with multiple micropyles. The most proximal to the oocyte is the vitelline envelope that consists of four layers of filamentous and trabecular material. The structural components of this envelope are synthesized by the oocyte (primary envelope). The chorion encloses the vitelline envelope. The extrachorion covers the external surface of the egg. Examination of the arrangement of layers that comprise the egg envelopes together with the ultrastructure of follicular cells revealed that the chorion and extrachorion are secondary envelopes. They are secreted by follicular cells and are built of homogeneous material. During formation of egg envelopes, the follicular cells gradually diversify into three morphologically different populations: 1) cells covering the animal oocyte region (cuboid), (2) main body cells (cylindrical) and (3) micropylar cells. The apical surfaces of follicular cells from the first two populations form processes that remain connected with the oocyte plasma membrane by means of gap junctions. Micropylar cells are located at the animal region of the oocyte. Their apical parts bear projections that form a barrier to the deposition of materials for egg envelopes, resulting in the formation of the micropylar canal.