The process of coelomic pouch formation in Pisaster ochraceus was studied with light microscopy, transmission and scanning electron microscopy and time-lapse cinemicrography as well as with the drug cytochalasin B. As in most asteroids, the paired coelomic pouches of Pisaster ochraceus are formed from outpocketing of the archenteron.
Arrays of 50 Å microfilaments are found in the presumptive coelomic pouch cells at the apex of the archenteron as well as in the filopodia of the mesenchyme cells. Both cell types undergo active movements throughout the entire process. Treatment of embryos with cytochalasin B (CCB) during coelomic pouch formation results in the loss of cell movements and the regression of the coelomic pouches; this is accompanied by the loss of microfilament arrays in both cell types. Cell movements and microfilament arrays reappear on removal of CCB and coelomic pouch formation resumes.
Our evidence suggests that the microfilaments in the presumptive coelomic pouch cells provide the main force for the outpocketing movement. The major role of the microfilament arrays in the filopodia of the mesenchyme cells associated with the coelomic pouches is to determine the definitive shape and location of the pouches.