Polarized Dishevelled dissolution and reassembly drives embryonic axis specification in sea star oocytes

S. Zachary Swartz, Tzer Han Tan, Margherita Perillo, Nikta Fakhri, Gary M. Wessel, Athula H. Wikramanayake, Iain M. Cheeseman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The organismal body axes that are formed during embryogenesis are intimately linked to intrinsic asymmetries established at the cellular scale in oocytes.1 However, the mechanisms that generate cellular asymmetries within the oocyte and then transduce that polarity to organismal scale body axes are poorly understood outside of select model organisms. Here, we report an axis-defining event in meiotic oocytes of the sea star Patiria miniata. Dishevelled (Dvl) is a cytoplasmic Wnt pathway effector required for axis development in diverse species,2–4 but the mechanisms governing its function and distribution remain poorly defined. Using time-lapse imaging, we find that Dvl localizes uniformly to puncta throughout the cell cortex in Prophase I-arrested oocytes but becomes enriched at the vegetal pole following meiotic resumption through a dissolution-reassembly mechanism. This process is driven by an initial disassembly phase of Dvl puncta, followed by selective reformation of Dvl assemblies at the vegetal pole. Rather than being driven by Wnt signaling, this localization behavior is coupled to meiotic cell cycle progression and influenced by Lamp1+ endosome association and Frizzled receptors pre-localized within the oocyte cortex. Our results reveal a cell cycle-linked mechanism by which maternal cellular polarity is transduced to the embryo through spatially regulated Dvl dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5633-5641.e4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 20 2021


  • body axis
  • Dishevelled
  • meiosis
  • oocyte
  • Patiria miniata
  • polarity
  • sea star
  • starfish
  • Wnt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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