Objects are commonly moved within the cell by either passive diffusion or active directed transport. A third possibility is advection, in which objects within the cytoplasm are moved with the flow of the cytoplasm. Bulk movement of the cytoplasm, or streaming, as required for advection, is more common in large cells than in small cells. For example, streaming is observed in elongated plant cells and the oocytes of several species. In the oocyte, two stages of streaming are observed: relatively slow streaming during mid-oogenesis and streaming that is approximately ten times faster during late oogenesis. These flows are implicated in two processes: polarity establishment and mixing. In this review, I discuss the underlying mechanism of streaming, how slow and fast streaming are differentiated, and what we know about the physiological roles of the two types of streaming.

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Data & Media loading...

    Slow streaming in a stage 9 wild type oocyte. Images of autofluorescent yolk granules were acquired once every 15 seconds (M.E. Quinlan, unpublished data).

    Fast streaming in a stage 11 wild type oocyte. Images of yolk granules labeled with trypan blue were acquired once every 15 seconds. Dumping becomes apparent after 5 minutes (M.E. Quinlan, unpublished data).

    Microtubules visualized during fast streaming in a stage 11 oocyte expressing GFP-tubulin. Images were acquired every 15 seconds.

    Trypan blue was injected directly into a stage 11 wild type oocyte. The dye labeled a subset of yolk granules. Dispersal of the yolk granules over time demonstrates that mixing is accomplished during fast streaming. One image per minute is shown.

    The actin mesh in a stage 9 oocyte is labeled by UtrnCH-GFP (the actin binding calponin homology domain of utrophin, which labels filamentous actin). Images were acquired every 10 seconds.

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