Dynamic microtubules at the vegetal cortex predict the embryonic axis in zebrafish.
Tran, L. D.
Date of Issue2012
School of Biological Sciences
In zebrafish, as in many animals, maternal dorsal determinants are vegetally localized in the egg and are transported after fertilization in a microtubule-dependent manner. However, the organization of early microtubules, their dynamics and their contribution to axis formation are not fully understood. Using live imaging, we identified two populations of microtubules, perpendicular bundles and parallel arrays, which are directionally oriented and detected exclusively at the vegetal cortex before the first cell division. Perpendicular bundles emanate from the vegetal cortex, extend towards the blastoderm, and orient along the animal-vegetal axis. Parallel arrays become asymmetric on the vegetal cortex, and orient towards dorsal. We show that the orientation of microtubules at 20 minutes post-fertilization can predict where the embryonic dorsal structures in zebrafish will form. Furthermore, we find that parallel microtubule arrays colocalize with wnt8a RNA, the candidate maternal dorsal factor. Vegetal cytoplasmic granules are displaced with parallel arrays by ∼20°, providing in vivo evidence of a cortical rotation-like process in zebrafish. Cortical displacement requires parallel microtubule arrays, and probably contributes to asymmetric transport of maternal determinants. Formation of parallel arrays depends on Ca2+ signaling. Thus, microtubule polarity and organization predicts the zebrafish embryonic axis. In addition, our results suggest that cortical rotation-like processes might be more common in early development than previously thought.