Cytoskeletal organization in the oocyte, zygote, and early cleaving embryo of the stripe‐faced dunnart (Sminthopsis macroura)

N. E. Merry, Martin H. Johnson, C. A. Gehring, Lynne Selwood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Ovulation occurs in Sminthopsis macroura approximately 160 hr after administration of 1.3 IU PMSG, and yields significantly more oocytes than does spontaneous ovulation (P = 0.001). Germinal vesicle (GV)‐stage oocytes have a thin cortical rim of microfilaments, which is disrupted by exposure to cytochalasin D. After GV breakdown, the first meiotic spindle forms subcortically and parallel to the oolemma. It rotates during anaphase and telophase to extrude the first polar body. This rotation is associated with a local cortical concentration of microfilaments, which is extruded in the first polar body. The second meiotic spindle is orthogonal to the surface, and extrusion of the second polar body is not associated with obvious local changes in cortical actin, resulting in a polar body containing little polymerized actin. The sites of second polar body emission and sperm entry are always in the half of the oocyte opposite the concentrating yolk mass, and are within 60° of each other in most oocytes. During the concentration and eccentric movement of the yolk, microfilaments condense around it. During yolk expulsion, these microfilaments become continuous with those located subcortically. During early cleavage, the cytocortex of the zygote, but not of the extruded yolk mass, stains heavily for polymerised actin. Multiple sites of pericentriolar material are detectable in the cytoplasm of some secondary unfertilized oocytes which, in the presence of taxol, generate large cytasters and pseudospindle structures. After fertilization, a large aster is formed in association with the sperm entry point and serves as the center of an extensive cytoplasmic network of microtubules which surrounds but does not enter the yolk mass. Taxol treatment generates small cytasters within this meshwork and promotes selective stabilization of some periyolk microtubules opposite to the sperm aster. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-224
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Marsupial
  • Microfilaments
  • Microtubules
  • Sminthopsis macroura
  • Taxol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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