During vertebrate gastrulation, convergence and extension cell movements are coordinated with the anteroposterior and mediolateral embryonic axes. Wnt planar cell polarity (Wnt/PCP) signaling polarizes the motile behaviors of cells with respect to the anteroposterior embryonic axis. Understanding how Wnt/PCP signaling mediates convergence and extension (C&E) movements requires analysis of the mechanisms employed to alter cell morphology and behavior with respect to embryonic polarity. Here, we examine the interactions between the microtubule cytoskeleton and Wnt/PCP signaling during zebrafish gastrulation. First, we assessed the location of the centrosome/microtubule organizing center (MTOC) relative to the cell nucleus and the body axes, as a marker of cell polarity. The intracellular position of MTOCs was polarized, perpendicular to the plane of the germ layers, independently of Wnt/PCP signaling. In addition, this position became biased posteriorly and medially within the plane of the germ layers at the transition from mid-to late gastrulation and from slow to fast C&E movements. This depends on intact Wnt/PCP signaling through Knypek (Glypican4/6) and Dishevelled components. Second, we tested whether microtubules are required for planar cell polarization. Once the planar cell polarity is established, microtubules are not required for accumulation of Prickle at the anterior cell edge. However, microtubules are needed for cell-cell contacts and initiation of its anterior localization. Reciprocal interactions occur between Wnt/PCP signaling and microtubule cytoskeleton during C&E gastrulation movements. Wnt/PCP signaling influences the polarity of the microtubule cytoskeleton and, conversely, microtubules are required for the asymmetric distribution of Wnt/PCP pathway components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-552
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011


  • Cell polarity
  • Centrosome
  • Intercalation
  • Microtubule
  • Migration
  • Prickle
  • Zebrafish


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