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Dev Biol. 1988 Jan;125(1):75-84.

An analysis of the role of microfilaments in the establishment and maintenance of asymmetry in Caenorhabditis elegans zygotes.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405.


Microfilaments are needed to generate asymmetry during the first cell cycle in Caenorhabditis elegans zygotes. To investigate when and how microfilaments participate in this process, we have "pulsed" zygotes with the microfilament inhibitor cytochalasin D (CD) at different times during the cell cycle. We have shown that microfilaments are only required during a narrow time interval approximately three-quarters of the way through the first cell cycle for the manifestations of asymmetry that occur during and subsequent to this interval. When CD treatment spans this critical time interval, pseudocleavage, pronuclear migration, germ-granule segregation (all of which occur during the interval), and movement of the mitotic spindle to an asymmetric position (which occurs later in the cell cycle) are perturbed. In contrast, embryos briefly treated with CD before or after the critical time interval manifest normal asymmetry. Our results suggest that in C. elegans microfilaments participate in the generation of zygotic asymmetry by providing spatial cues and/or serving as a part of the necessary machinery only during a brief period in the first cell cycle, and are not required to maintain asymmetries that have already been established.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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