A useful starting point for investigating the role of the cytoskeleton in early development has been the results obtained from studies examining the cytoskeleton in somatic cells. However, the developmental challenges faced by eggs, zygotes, and early embryos appear to require specializations of cytoskeletal function, as described in this chapter. The cytoskeletal specializations outlined in this article, are not meant to be an exclusive list but rather a starting point for the recognition of these special roles. Indeed, future studies are likely to lengthen the list of specialized cytoskeletal functions in early development. Conversely, it is also useful to remember that somatic cells originate from the development of an embryo, and there is no reason to assume that somatic cells lose all of the specialized functions present in their progenitor cells (i.e., the zygote and blastomeres of the embryo). But in somatic cells some or all of these specialized roles may be greatly reduced in scope, making them difficult to detect. Thus characterization of the specialized functions of the cytoskeleton during early development may aid the identification of more subtle cytoskeletal functions in somatic cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Structural Biology