Porcine brain tubulin labeled with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) was able to polymerize by itself and co-polymerize with tubulin purified from starfish sperm flagella. When we injected the FITC-labeled tubulin into unfertilized eggs of the sand dollar, Clypeaster japonicus, and the eggs were then fertilized, the labeled tubulin was incorporated into the sperm aster. When injected into fertilized eggs at streak stage, the tubulin was quickly incorporated into each central region of growing asters. It was clearly visualized that the labeled tubulin, upon reaching metaphase, accumulated in the mitotic apparatus and later disappeared over the cytoplasm during interphase. The accumulation of the fluorescence in the mitotic apparatus was observed repeatedly at successive cleavage. After lysis of the fertilized eggs with a microtubule-stabilizing solution, fluorescent fibrous structures around the nucleus and those of the sperm aster and the mitotic apparatus were preserved and coincided with the fibrous structures observed by polarization and differential interference microscopy. We found the FITC-labeled tubulin to be incorporated into the entire mitotic apparatus within 20-30 s when injected into the eggs at metaphase or anaphase. This rapid incorporation of the labeled tubulin into the mitotic apparatus suggests that the equilibrium between mitotic microtubules and tubulin is attained very rapidly in the living eggs. Axonemal tubulin purified from starfish sperm flagella and labeled with FITC was also incorporated into microtubular structures in the same fashion as the FITC-labeled brain tubulin. These results suggest that even FITC-labeled heterogeneous tubulins undergo spatial and stage-specific regulation of assembly-disassembly in the same manner as does sand dollar egg tubulin.

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