In an effort to understand how polarity is established in Xenopus oocytes, we have analyzed the process of localization of the maternal mRNA, Vg1. In fully grown oocytes, Vg1 mRNA is tightly localized at the vegetal cortex. Biochemical fractionation shows that the mRNA is preferentially associated with a detergent-insoluble subcellular fraction. The use of cytoskeletal inhibitors suggests that (1) microtubules are involved in the translocation of the message to the vegetal hemisphere and (2) microfilaments are important for the anchoring of the message at the cortex. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry reveals that a cytoplasmic microtubule array exists during translocation. These results suggest a role for the cytoskeleton in localizing information in the oocyte.

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