Endoplasmic Reticulum Network Formation with Xenopus Egg Extracts.


Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115 [Email] [Email]


The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) consists of morphologically distinct domains, including a polygonal network of tubules that is connected by three-way junctions. This network is found in all eukaryotic cells. Extracts from Xenopus laevis eggs contain stockpiles of components that allow the assembly of an ER network in vitro. Here we provide protocols for assembly of ER networks in extracts that are arrested at different stages of the cell cycle. Unfertilized Xenopus laevis eggs contain a cytostatic factor (CSF) that keeps them in the metaphase stage of the cell cycle. Disruption of the eggs by low-speed centrifugation releases calcium and the eggs cycle into interphase. This state can then be maintained by the addition of cycloheximide, which prevents the synthesis of cyclin B. CSF extracts can be also prepared in the presence of a calcium chelator, thus keeping the extract in metaphase. In this protocol, we outline procedures for the assembly of an ER network using either interphase- or metaphase-arrested Xenopus egg extracts. The network assembled is strikingly similar to the network observed in tissue culture cells. The extract allows easy biochemical manipulation, permitting the effects of purified proteins or small molecules, or the depletion of cytosolic components to be tested.

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