A transient array of parallel microtubules in frog eggs: potential tracks for a cytoplasmic rotation that specifies the dorso-ventral axis

Dev Biol. 1988 Jul;128(1):185-97. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(88)90281-3.


The dorsoventral axis of the frog embryo is specified by a rotation of the egg cytoplasm relative to the cortex. When eggs undergoing the cortical/cytoplasmic rotation were examined by immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy, an extensive array of parallel microtubules was found covering the vegetal hemisphere of the egg. The microtubules were 1-3 microns deep from the plasma membrane and were aligned parallel to the direction of rotation. They formed at the start of rotation and disappeared at its completion. Colchicine and uv irradiation, inhibitors of the rotation, prevented the formation of the parallel microtubules. Based on these properties, we suggest that the parallel microtubules serve as tracks for the cortical/cytoplasmic rotation which specifies the dorsoventral axis of the embryo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzimidazoles / pharmacology
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Colchicine / pharmacology
  • Cytoplasm / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / radiation effects
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Nocodazole
  • Ovum / radiation effects
  • Ovum / ultrastructure*
  • Rana pipiens
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Benzimidazoles
  • Nocodazole
  • Colchicine