Complementary roles for dynein and kinesins in the Xenopus egg cortical rotation. uri icon


  • Aligned vegetal subcortical microtubules in fertilized Xenopus eggs mediate the "cortical rotation", a translocation of the vegetal cortex and of dorsalizing factors toward the egg equator. Kinesin-related protein (KRP) function is essential for the cortical rotation, and dynein has been implicated indirectly; however, the role of neither microtubule motor protein family is understood. We examined the consequence of inhibiting dynein--dynactin-based transport by microinjection of excess dynamitin beneath the vegetal egg surface. Dynamitin introduced before the cortical rotation prevented formation of the subcortical array, blocking microtubule incorporation from deeper regions. In contrast, dynamitin injected after the microtubule array was fully established did not block cortical translocation, unlike inhibitory-KRP antibodies. During an early phase of cortical rotation, when microtubules showed a distinctive wavy organization, dynamitin disrupted microtubule alignment and perturbed cortical movement. These findings indicate that dynein is required for formation and early maintenance of the vegetal microtubule array, while KRPs are largely responsible for displacing the cortex once the microtubule tracks are established. Consistent with this model for the cortical rotation, photobleach analysis revealed both microtubules that translocated with the vegetal cytoplasm relative to the cortex, and ones that moved with the cortex relative to the cytoplasm.

publication date

  • July 1, 2004