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Dev Cell. 2005 May;8(5):765-75.

Computer simulations and image processing reveal length-dependent pulling force as the primary mechanism for C. elegans male pronuclear migration.

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Graduate School of Science and Technology, Keio University, Kohoku, Yokohama, Japan.


A male pronucleus migrates toward the center of an egg to reach the female pronucleus for zygote formation. This migration depends on microtubules growing from two centrosomes associated with the male pronucleus. Two mechanisms were previously proposed for this migration: a "pushing mechanism," which uses the pushing force resulting from microtubule polymerization, and a "pulling mechanism," which uses the length-dependent pulling force generated by minus-end-directed motors anchored throughout the cytoplasm. We combined two computer-assisted analyses to examine the relative contribution of these mechanisms to male pronuclear migration. Computer simulation revealed an intrinsic difference in migration behavior of the male pronucleus between the pushing and pulling mechanisms. In vivo measurements using image processing showed that the actual migration behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans confirms the pulling mechanism. A male pronucleus having a single centrosome migrated toward the single aster. We propose that the pulling mechanism is the primary mechanism for male pronuclear migration.

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