Microtubule organization and nucleation were studied during in vitro human myogenesis by immunocytology that used monoclonal and polyclonal antitubulin antibodies and a rabbit nonimmune serum that reacts with human centrosomes. In myoblasts, we observed a classical microtubule network centered on juxtanuclear centrosomes. Myotubes possessed numerous microtubules organized in parallel without any apparent nucleation centers. Centrosomes in these cells were not associated one to each nucleus but were often clustered in the vicinity of nuclei groups. They were significantly smaller than those of the mononucleated cells. The periphery of each nucleus in myotubes was labeled with the serum that labels centrosomes suggesting a profound reorganization of microtubule-nucleating material. Regrowth experiments after Nocodazole treatment established that microtubules were growing from the periphery of the nuclei. The redistribution of nucleating material was shown to take place early after myoblast fusion. Such a phenomenon appears to be specific to myogenic differentiation in that artificially induced polykaryons behaved differently: the centrosomes aggregated to form only one or a few giant nucleating centers and the nuclei did not participate directly in the nucleation of microtubules. The significance of these results is discussed in relation to the possible role of the centrosome in establishing cell polarity.

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