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Dev Biol. 1985 Feb;107(2):382-94.

Development of cortical polarity in mouse eggs: involvement of the meiotic apparatus.


Experiments were carried out to determine the origin of cortical polarity in mouse eggs and its possible relation to the meiotic apparatus. Cortices of mature eggs overlying the meiotic apparatus (microvillus-free area) were distinguished by an absence of microvilli and a thickened layer of actin. In contrast, the surfaces of immature oocytes were covered entirely with a dense population of microvilli and were subtended by a uniform layer of actin. When induced to undergo maturation, meiotic spindles formed in the center of immature oocytes and then moved peripherally. Coincident with the cortical localization of the meiotic spindle was the formation of a microvillus-free area, i.e., a loss of microvilli and a thickening of the actin layer associated with this region of the egg cortex. If immature oocytes were incubated in cytochalasin B, meiotic spindles formed; however, they failed to move peripherally and microvillus-free areas did not develop. Oocytes incubated in colchicine did not form meiotic spindles, although the chromosomes condensed and became localized to cortices where microvillus-free areas developed. Cytochalasin B-treated mature eggs maintained intact meiotic spindles and exhibited a disappearance of microvillus-free areas and a reduction in cortical actin. The chromosomes of mature eggs treated with colchicine remained associated with microvillus-free areas despite the disappearance of meiotic spindles. Occasionally, colchicine-treated eggs possessed more than one cortically located mass of chromosomes, each of which was associated with a microvillus-free area. These observations indicate that mechanisms involving the movement of the meiotic spindle to the oocyte cortex and development and maintenance of cortical polarity are cytochalasin B sensitive. Commensurate with the localization of meiotic chromosomes to the egg cortex is the reorganization of cortical actin and the formation of a microvillus-free area.

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