Send to

Choose Destination
J Cell Biol. 2020 Feb 3;219(2). pii: e201909137. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201909137.

C. elegans pronuclei fuse after fertilization through a novel membrane structure.

Author information

The Laboratory of Biochemistry and Genetics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.
Center for Molecular Microscopy, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD.
Cancer Research Technology Program, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Frederick, MD.


After fertilization, parental genomes are enclosed in two separate pronuclei. In Caenorhabditis elegans, and possibly other organisms, when the two pronuclei first meet, the parental genomes are separated by four pronuclear membranes. To understand how these membranes are breached to allow merging of parental genomes we used focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) to study the architecture of the pronuclear membranes at nanometer-scale resolution. We find that at metaphase, the interface between the two pronuclei is composed of two membranes perforated by fenestrations ranging from tens of nanometers to several microns in diameter. The parental chromosomes come in contact through one of the large fenestrations. Surrounding this fenestrated, two-membrane region is a novel membrane structure, a three-way sheet junction, where the four membranes of the two pronuclei fuse and become two. In the plk-1 mutant, where parental genomes fail to merge, these junctions are absent, suggesting that three-way sheet junctions are needed for formation of a diploid genome.

[Available on 2020-08-03]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center