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Many aspects of the mitotic cycle can take place independently in syncytial Drosophila embryos. Embryos from females homozygous for the mutation gnu undergo rounds of DNA synthesis without nuclear division to produce giant nuclei, and at the same time show many cycles of centrosome replication (Freeman et al. 1986). S phase can be inhibited in wild-type Drosophila embryos by injecting aphidicolin, in which case not only do centrosomes replicate, but chromosomes continue to condense and decondense, the nuclear envelope undergoes cycles of breakdown and reformation, and cycles of budding activity continue at the cortex of the embryo (Raff and Glover, 1988). If aphidicolin is injected when nuclei are in the interior of the embryo, centrosomes dissociate from the nuclei and can migrate to the cortex. Pole cells without nuclei then form around those centrosomes that reach the posterior pole (Raff and Glover, 1989); the centrosomes presumably must interact with polar granules, the maternally-provided determinants for pole cell formation. The pole cells form the germ-line of the developing organism, and as such may have specific requirements for mitotic cell division. This is suggested by our finding that a specific class of cyclin mRNAs, the products of the cyclin B gene, accumulate in pole cells during embryogenesis (Whitfield et al. 1989). Other genes that are essential for mitosis in early embryogenesis and in later development are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cell Sci Suppl

Publication Date





277 - 291


Animals, Aphidicolin, Chromosomes, Cyclins, DNA Polymerase II, DNA Replication, Diterpenes, Drosophila melanogaster, Invertebrate Hormones, Mitosis, Mutation, Spindle Apparatus