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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Feb 18;94(4):1224-9.

Microtubule-mediated transport of organelles and localization of beta-catenin to the future dorsal side of Xenopus eggs.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98195, USA.


The dorsal-ventral axis in frog embryos is specified during the first cell cycle, when the cortex rotates relative to the cytoplasmic core along parallel microtubules associated with the core. Cytoplasmic transfer experiments suggest that dorsal determinants are transported 90 degrees from the vegetal pole to the dorsal equator, even though the cortex rotates only 30 degrees. Here we show that, during rotation, small endogenous organelles are rapidly propelled along the subcortical microtubules toward the future dorsal side and that fluorescent carboxylated beads injected into the vegetal pole are transported at least 60 degrees toward the equator. We also show that deuterium oxide, which broadens the zone of dorsalization even though it reduces the extent of rotation and is known to randomize the microtubules, also randomizes the direction of organelle transport. Moreover, beta-catenin, a component of the Wnt signaling pathway that possesses dorsalizing activity in Xenopus, colocalizes with subcortical microtubules at the dorsal side of the egg at the end of rotation. We propose that cortical rotation functions to align subcortical microtubules, which then mediate the transport of dorsal determinants toward their plus ends on one side of the egg.

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