The role of the cytoskeleton in germ plasm aggregation and compaction in the zebrafish embryo

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2020:140:145-179. doi: 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2020.02.001. Epub 2020 Mar 6.


The transmission of genetic information from one generation to another is crucial for survival of animal species. This is accomplished by the induction of primordial germ cells (PGCs) that will eventually establish the germline. In some animals the germline is induced by signals in gastrula, whereas in others it is specified by inheritance of maternal determinants, known as germ plasm. In zebrafish, aggregation and compaction of maternally derived germ plasm during the first several embryonic cell cycles is essential for generation of PGCs. These processes are controlled by cellular functions associated with the cellular division apparatus. Ribonucleoparticles containing germ plasm components are bound to both the ends of astral microtubules and a dynamic F-actin network through a mechanism integrated with that which drives the cell division program. In this chapter we discuss the role that modifications of the cell division apparatus, including the cytoskeleton and cytoskeleton-associated proteins, play in the regulation of zebrafish germ plasm assembly.

Keywords: Cytoskeleton; Early embryonic development; Germ cells; Ribonucleoparticles; Sub-cellular localization; Zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / embryology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Oocytes / cytology
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Ribonucleoproteins / metabolism
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Ribonucleoproteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • RNA