Bulk Actin Dynamics Drive Phase Segregation in Zebrafish Oocytes

Cell. 2019 May 30;177(6):1463-1479.e18. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.04.030. Epub 2019 May 9.


Segregation of maternal determinants within the oocyte constitutes the first step in embryo patterning. In zebrafish oocytes, extensive ooplasmic streaming leads to the segregation of ooplasm from yolk granules along the animal-vegetal axis of the oocyte. Here, we show that this process does not rely on cortical actin reorganization, as previously thought, but instead on a cell-cycle-dependent bulk actin polymerization wave traveling from the animal to the vegetal pole of the oocyte. This wave functions in segregation by both pulling ooplasm animally and pushing yolk granules vegetally. Using biophysical experimentation and theory, we show that ooplasm pulling is mediated by bulk actin network flows exerting friction forces on the ooplasm, while yolk granule pushing is achieved by a mechanism closely resembling actin comet formation on yolk granules. Our study defines a novel role of cell-cycle-controlled bulk actin polymerization waves in oocyte polarization via ooplasmic segregation.

Keywords: actin comets; actomyosin flows; ooplasmic streaming; phase segregation; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Actins / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Egg Yolk / physiology
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Polymerization
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / metabolism
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism
  • Zygote


  • Actins
  • Zebrafish Proteins