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J Cell Sci. 2008 Oct 1;121(Pt 19):3177-86. doi: 10.1242/jcs.034678. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Rab11 is required for synchronous secretion of chondroitin proteoglycans after fertilization in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Laboratory of Molecular Traffic, Institute for Molecular and Cellular Regulation, Gunma University, Maebashi, Gunma, Japan.


We previously identified a novel type of caveolin-enriched secretory vesicle in Caenorhabditis elegans oocytes. These vesicles undergo synchronous fusion with the plasma membrane immediately after fertilization, suggesting that they could be cortical granules that have been described in diverse animal species. Here, we report that these vesicles are indeed cortical granules, delivering essential chondroitin proteoglycans and mucin-like glycoproteins to the early embryonic extracellular matrices (ECMs). Furthermore, we have found that the small GTPase RAB-11 and the target-SNARE SYN-4 are required for cortical granule excoytosis after fertilization. In oocytes, SYN-4 localizes mainly to the plasma membrane, whereas GFP::RAB-11 accumulates transiently on the cortical granules during ovulation, immediately prior to fertilization. Importantly, cytokinesis defects in early embryos are commonly observed after depletion of either rab-11 or syn-4, producing a phenotype very similar to that observed after blockade of chondroitin synthesis. Taken together, our results indicate that at least part of the essential role for RAB-11 and SYN-4 in early embryogenesis is in the targeting of cortical granules to the plasma membrane during the precisely regulated secretion of ECM components.

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