The distribution of microtubules and microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs) during the development of cell polarity in eight-cell mouse blastomeres was studied by immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy using monoclonal anti-tubulin antibodies and an anti-pericentriolar material (PCM) serum. In early eight-cell blastomeres microtubules were found mainly around the nucleus and in the cell cortex, whereas PCM foci were observed dispersed in the cytoplasm. During the eight-cell stage, microtubules disappeared from the area adjacent to the zone of intercellular contact and accumulated in the apical part of the cell while their number decreased in the basal domain. The PCM also relocalized to the apical domain of the cell, but this occurred after the redistribution of the microtubules by a mechanism that involved the microtubule network. The possible roles of both MTOCs and microtubules in establishing cell polarity are discussed.

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