We studied cyclic reorganizations of filamentous actin, myosin II and microtubules in syncytial Drosophila blastoderms using drug treatments, time-lapse movies and laser scanning confocal microscopy of fixed stained embryos (including multiprobe three-dimensional reconstructions). Our observations imply interactions between microtubules and the actomyosin cytoskeleton. They provide evidence that filamentous actin and cytoplasmic myosin II are transported along microtubules towards microtubule plus ends, with actin and myosin exhibiting different affinities for the cell's cortex. Our studies further reveal that cell cycle phase modulates the amounts of both polymerized actin and myosin II associated with the cortex. We analogize pseudocleavage furrow formation in the Drosophila blastoderm with how the mitotic apparatus positions the cleavage furrow for standard cytokinesis, and relate our findings to polar relaxation/global contraction mechanisms for furrow formation.

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