Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1992 Jun 4;357(6377):413-5.

Function of maternal cytokeratin in Xenopus development.

Author information

Wellcome/Cancer Research Campaign Institute of Cancer, Cambridge, UK.


Intermediate filaments are ubiquitous in eukaryotic cells, but their functions are poorly understood. The Xenopus oocyte contains both messenger RNA and protein products of cytokeratin and vimentin genes in non-overlapping arrays. The cytokeratin filaments contain dimers of the type I (acidic) subunit XLK3a(19), and the type II (basic) subunit XCK1(8), polymerized to form a cortical network. These are homologues of the human simple epithelial keratins 19 and 8, respectively. After the first few cell cycles following fertilization these filaments become restricted to the superficial cells of the blastula. We have depleted the oocyte's store of the type II cytokeratin mRNA by injecting antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (oligos) and studied the effect on embryonic development. As zygotic transcription does not commence until the late blastula stage, there are at least 9 hours in which to see the effect of loss of function of this mRNA. We report here that the cytokeratin filaments become depleted in the cortical cells of the embryo. As a result, there is a loss of the 'compacted' epithelial surface of the blastula, an inability to close a wounded surface and defective gastrulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center