Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis begins with 13 nuclear division cycles within a syncytium. This produces >6,000 nuclei that, during the next division cycle, become encased in plasma membrane in the process known as cellularization. In this study, we investigate how the secretory membrane system becomes equally apportioned among the thousands of syncytial nuclei in preparation for cellularization. Upon nuclear arrival at the cortex, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi were found to segregate among nuclei, with each nucleus becoming surrounded by a single ER/Golgi membrane system separate from adjacent ones. The nuclear-associated units of ER and Golgi across the syncytial blastoderm produced secretory products that were delivered to the plasma membrane in a spatially restricted fashion across the embryo. This occurred in the absence of plasma membrane boundaries between nuclei and was dependent on centrosome-derived microtubules. The emergence of secretory membranes that compartmentalized around individual nuclei in the syncytial blastoderm is likely to ensure that secretory organelles are equivalently partitioned among nuclei at cellularization and could play an important role in the establishment of localized gene and protein expression patterns within the early embryo.
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