Polarized insertion of new membrane from a cytoplasmic reservoir during cleavage of the Drosophila embryo

Thomas Lecuit, Eric Wieschaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Cellularization of the Drosophila embryo is a specialized form of cytokinesis that results in the formation of a polarized epithelium. The mechanisms of membrane growth during cytokinesis are largely unknown. It is also unclear whether membrane growth and polarization represent distinct processes that occur simultaneously or whether growth of the membrane is involved in the emergence of polarity. Using a combination of surface labeling and particles tracking techniques, we monitored the dynamics of marked membrane regions during cellularization. We find that the major source of membrane is intracellular, rather than in the form of a plasma membrane reservoir. Depolymerization of microtubules inhibits the export of a newly synthesized transmembrane protein from the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane and simultaneously blocks membrane growth. Membrane insertion occurs in a defined sequence at specific sites, first apical, then apical-lateral. Diffusion of the membrane appears insufficient to compete with the massive local insertion of new membrane. We thus identify a tightly regulated scheme of polarized membrane insertion during cellularization. We propose that such a mechanism could participate in the progressive emergence of apical-basal polarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-860
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 21 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology


  • Cellularization
  • Cytokinesis
  • Epithelial cells
  • Membrane growth
  • Polarity


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