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Dev Biol. 2008 Jan 15;313(2):682-99. Epub 2007 Nov 17.

Cortical and cytoplasmic flows driven by actin microfilaments polarize the cortical ER-mRNA domain along the a-v axis in ascidian oocytes.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, 1-1 Machikaneyama-cho, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan.


Cellular mechanisms generating the polarized redistribution of maternal Type I postplasmic/PEM mRNAs in ascidian oocytes remain unknown. We have previously shown that PEM-1 mRNA is associated with a network of rough cortical Endoplasmic Reticulum (cER) polarized along the animal-vegetal (a-v) axis forming a cER-mRNA domain in mature oocytes. We now investigate the a-v polarization of this cER-mRNA domain during meiotic maturation using H. roretzi and C. intestinalis. We show that the cER and Hr-PEM-1 aggregate as interconnected cortical patches at the cell periphery before maturation, which uniformly spread out during maturation and form a reticulated organization enriched in the vegetal hemisphere at the end of maturation. Time-lapse video recordings coupled with micromanipulations reveal that stereotyped surface, cortical and cytoplasmic flows accompany the vegetal shift of the cER-mRNA domain and mitochondria-rich myoplasm. Treatments with cytochalasin B and nocodazole indicate that both polarization of the cER-mRNA domain and mitochondria-rich myoplasm and cortical and cytoplasmic flows depend on actin cytoskeleton, but not microtubules. Using cortical fragments prepared from maturing oocytes coupled with high resolution immuno/in situ localization, we have further analyzed the effects of these inhibitors on the reorganizations the cER network and Hr-PEM-1 mRNA. We show that before maturation starts, Hr-PEM-1 mRNAs are already associated with the cER, and actin cytoskeleton inhibitors disturb their association. Finally, we hypothesize that Germinal Vesicle Break Down (GVBD) triggers an actomyosin-dependent cortical flow which directs the a-v polarization of ascidian oocytes.

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