Dual spindles assemble in bovine zygotes despite the presence of paternal centrosomes

J Cell Biol. 2021 Nov 1;220(11):e202010106. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202010106. Epub 2021 Sep 22.


The first mitosis of the mammalian embryo must partition the parental genomes contained in two pronuclei. In rodent zygotes, sperm centrosomes are degraded, and instead, acentriolar microtubule organizing centers and microtubule self-organization guide the assembly of two separate spindles around the genomes. In nonrodent mammals, including human or bovine, centrosomes are inherited from the sperm and have been widely assumed to be active. Whether nonrodent zygotes assemble a single centrosomal spindle around both genomes or follow the dual spindle self-assembly pathway is unclear. To address this, we investigated spindle assembly in bovine zygotes by systematic immunofluorescence and real-time light-sheet microscopy. We show that two independent spindles form despite the presence of centrosomes, which had little effect on spindle structure and were only loosely connected to the two spindles. We conclude that the dual spindle assembly pathway is conserved in nonrodent mammals. This could explain whole parental genome loss frequently observed in blastomeres of human IVF embryos.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Centrosome / physiology*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / physiology
  • Genome / physiology
  • Male
  • Microtubule-Organizing Center / physiology
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology*
  • Zygote / physiology*