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Cytoskeletal Architecture and Cellular Morphogenesis

Group leader: Phong Tran

Deputy group leader: Anne Paoletti

The team “Cytoskeletal Architecture and Cellular Morphogenesis” was created in 2008 by Phong Tran and Anne Paoletti

Tran-Paoletti TeamTran-Paoletti Team

 Our team explores how the cytoskeleton is organized, how it controls the establishment of functional membrane domains devoted to polarized cell growth or cell division, and how it is remodeled at mitotic entry for the assembly of the mitotic spindle and contractile ring, two complex molecular machines promoting chromosome segregation and cytokinesis. Most our studies are performed in the fission yeast genetic model system, where cell organization is stereotyped and the cytoskeleton relatively simple. We combine classical molecular genetics with state-of-the-art live cell microscopy approaches in combination with micro-fabricated devices to control cellular environment. More recently, we have started exploring evolutionary conserved pathways in mammalian cells.

Figure 1Figure 1

- Microtubule-based functions (Phong Tran)

We are interested in understanding how cell polarity and cell division are orchestrated by the cytoskeleton. Our previous studies in fission yeast have shown that bundles of microtubules can direct new sites of actin-dependent polarized cell growth; and microtubules organize the mitotic spindle for chromosome segregation. Cytoskeletal architecture and dynamics are influenced by associated proteins such as motors and bundlers, and regulatory proteins such as kinases and phosphatases. A long-term goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which these proteins function, and establish potential evolutionary conservation between yeast and man. Our plan is to (1) identify the molecular components of the cell shape and cell division pathway, (2) define the interactions of known (and newly discovered) cytoskeletal proteins and their roles in cell polarity and cell division, and (3) develop and apply advanced optical imaging analysis, and nanotechnology methods to the yeast and mammalian cell systems (Fig. 2).

Figure 2Figure 2

Figure 2. Fission yeast is a good model to study the MT cytoskeleton. (A) HeLa cells expressing GFP-tubulin. Shown are interphase and mitotic cells. (B) Enlarged images of the boxed region of interphase and mitotic cells shown in A. The magnification is equal to that of the fission yeast in C. (C) A fission yeast cell expressing GFP-tubulin. Interphase fission yeast has 3-5 MT bundles (Piel and Tran, 2009). Mitotic fission yeast has a relatively simple spindle that resembles an elongating bar. Compared to mammalian cells, which have many MTs, fission yeast MTs are relatively easy to visualize and quantify. Therefore, changes in MT architectural dynamics throughout the cell cycle due to ectopic expression of tubulin-modifying enzymes can easily be measured.

- Spatio-temporal regulation of cell division (Anne Paoletti)

Our aim is to determine how cell division is controlled in time and space to guarantee a correct segregation of chromosomes and an equal partitioning of the cytoplasm between sister cells. Our past work showed that in fission yeast, it involves medial cortical nodes organized by the SAD kinase Cdr2 and the anillin-like protein Mid1 that define the position of the division plane during interphase and act as precursors of the contractile ring. These nodes trigger medial assembly of the contractile ring during mitosis upon activation of Mid1 by the polo like kinase Plo1. We have also found that Cdr2 nodes are restricted to the medial cortex by the DYRK kinase Pom1 which forms gradients emanating from the cell tips. Our most recent work shows that Pom1 prevents Cdr2 nodes assembly at cell tips by reducing Cdr2 affinity for membrane lipids and down-regulating Cdr2 clustering abilities depending on interactions with Mid1 (Figure 2). Interestingly, Cdr2 also favors mitotic entry by inhibition of Wee1. This function is also inhibited by Pom1. However, Pom1 inhibition is relieved upon cell growth, allowing entry into mitosis and coupling mitosis entry to cell size. Our goal is now to characterize the function of additional components of medial cortical nodes that participate in division plane positioning or mitotic promoting functions. We also want to understand the signaling cascades and molecular mechanisms at play to remodel the nodes at mitotic entry when the contractile ring starts assembling. We finally plan to address the evolutionary conservation of these pathways regulating cell division in higher Eukaryotes.

Figure 3Figure 3

Figure 3. Spatio-temporal regulation of cell division in fission yeast. (A) Assembly of the cytokinetic contractile ring proceeds in 2 steps in fission yeast: accumulation of ring components on node precursors at the medial cortex followed by nodes compaction into a tight ring. (B) Node precursors are composed of the two major components Cdr2 and Mid1. Their assembly is restricted to the middle by Pom1 kinase which forms a gradient emanating from the cell tips. Pom1 lowers Cdr2 affinity for membrane lipids and also inhibits Cdr2 clustering dependent on Mid1/Cdr2 interaction (Rincon et al., JCB 2014).

Key publications

  • Year of publication : 2015

  • Spindle pole biogenesis and segregation are tightly coordinated to produce a bipolar mitotic spindle. In yeasts, the spindle pole body (SPB) half-bridge composed of Sfi1 and Cdc31 duplicates to promote biogenesis of a second SPB. Sfi1 accumulates at the half-bridge in two phases in S. pombe, from anaphase to early septation, and throughout G2 phase. We found that Sfi1/Cdc31 function in SPB duplication is accomplished before septation ends and G2 accumulation starts. Thus, Sfi1 early accumulation at mitotic exit may correspond to half-bridge duplication. We further show that Cdc31 phosphorylation on serine 15 in a CDK1 consensus is required for the dissociation of a significant pool of Sfi1 from the bridge and timely segregation of SPBs at mitotic onset. This suggests that Cdc31 N-terminus modulates the stability of Sfi1/Cdc31 arrays in fission yeast, and impacts on the timing of spindle bipolarity establishment.

  • Cell growth and division are tightly coordinated to maintain cell size constant during successive cell cycles. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the SAD kinase Cdr2 regulates the cell size at division and the positioning of the division plane. Cdr2 forms nodes on the medial cortex containing factors that constitute an inhibitory pathway for Wee1. This pathway is regulated by polar gradients of the DYRK kinase Pom1, and involves a direct inhibitor of Wee1, the SAD kinase Cdr1. Cdr2 also interacts with the anillin Mid1, which defines the division plane, and with additional components of the medial cortical nodes, including Blt1, which participate in the mitotic-promoting and cytokinetic functions of nodes. Here, we show that the interaction of Cdr2 with Wee1 and Mid1 requires the UBA domain of Cdr2, which is necessary for its kinase activity. In contrast, Cdr1 associates with the C-terminus of Cdr2, which is composed of basic and KA-1 lipid-binding domains. Mid1 also interacts with the C-terminus of Cdr2 and might bridge the N- and C-terminal domains, whereas Blt1 associates with the central spacer region. We propose that the association of Cdr2 effectors with different domains might constrain Cdr1 and Wee1 spatially to promote Wee1 inhibition upon Cdr2 kinase activation.

  • Microtubules (MTs) and associated motors play a central role in nuclear migration, which is crucial for diverse biological functions including cell division, polarity, and sexual reproduction. In this paper, we report a dual mechanism underlying nuclear congression during fission yeast karyogamy upon mating of haploid cells. Using microfluidic chambers for long-term imaging, we captured the precise timing of nuclear congression and identified two minus end-directed motors operating in parallel in this process. Kinesin-14 Klp2 associated with MTs may cross-link and slide antiparallel MTs emanating from the two nuclei, whereas dynein accumulating at spindle pole bodies (SPBs) may pull MTs nucleated from the opposite SPB. Klp2-dependent nuclear congression proceeds at constant speed, whereas dynein accumulation results in an increase of nuclear velocity over time. Surprisingly, the light intermediate chain Dli1, but not dynactin, is required for this previously unknown function of dynein. We conclude that efficient nuclear congression depends on the cooperation of two minus end-directed motors.

  • Aneuploidy-chromosome instability leading to incorrect chromosome number in dividing cells-can arise from defects in centrosome duplication, bipolar spindle formation, kinetochore-microtubule attachment, chromatid cohesion, mitotic checkpoint monitoring or cytokinesis. As most tumours show some degree of aneuploidy, mechanistic understanding of these pathways has been an intense area of research, to provide potential therapeutics. Here we present a mechanism for aneuploidy in fission yeast based on spindle pole microtubule defocusing by loss of kinesin-14 Pkl1, leading to kinesin-5 Cut7-dependent aberrant long spindle microtubule minus-end protrusions that push the properly segregated chromosomes to the site of cell division, resulting in chromosome cut at cytokinesis. Pkl1 localization and function at the spindle pole is mutually dependent on spindle pole-associated protein Msd1. This mechanism of aneuploidy bypasses the known spindle assembly checkpoint that monitors chromosome segregation.

  • Year of publication : 2014

  • Proper chromosome segregation is of paramount importance for proper genetic inheritance. Defects in chromosome segregation can lead to aneuploidy, which is a hallmark of cancer cells. Eukaryotic chromosome segregation is accomplished by the bipolar spindle. Additional mechanisms such as the spindle assembly checkpoint and centromere positioning further help to ensure complete segregation fidelity. We present here the fission yeast csi2(+). csi2p localizes to the spindle poles, where it regulates mitotic microtubule dynamics, bipolar spindle formation, and subsequent chromosome segregation. csi2-deletion (csi2Δ) results in abnormally long mitotic microtubules, high rate of transient monopolar spindles, and a subsequent high rate of chromosome segregation defects. As csi2Δ has multiple phenotypes, it enables estimates of the relative contribution of the different mechanisms to the overall chromosome segregation process. Centromere positioning, microtubule dynamics, and bipolar spindle formation can all contribute to chromosome segregation. However, the major determinant of chromosome segregation defects in fission yeast may be microtubule dynamic defects.

  • Accurate chromosome segregation requires timely bipolar spindle formation during mitosis. The transforming acidic coiled-coil (TACC) family proteins and the ch-TOG family proteins are key players in bipolar spindle formation. They form a complex to stabilize spindle microtubules, mainly dependent on their localization to the centrosome (the spindle pole body [SPB] in yeast). The molecular mechanism underlying the targeting of the TACC-ch-TOG complex to the centrosome remains unclear. Here we show that the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe TACC orthologue alp7p is recruited to the SPB by csi1p. The csi1p-interacting region lies within the conserved TACC domain of alp7p, and the carboxyl-terminal domain of csi1p is responsible for interacting with alp7p. Compromised interaction between csi1p and alp7p impairs the localization of alp7p to the SPB during mitosis, thus delaying bipolar spindle formation and leading to anaphase B lagging chromosomes. Hence our study establishes that csi1p serves as a linking molecule tethering spindle-stabilizing factors to the SPB for promoting bipolar spindle assembly.

  • Cellular morphogenesis relies partly on cell polarization by the cytoskeleton. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, it is well established that microtubules (MTs) deliver the spatial cue Tea1, a kelch repeat protein, to the tip regions to direct the growth machinery at the cell tips driving the linear extension of the rod-shaped organism to maintain a straight long axis. Here, we report the characterization of Knk1 (kink), a previously unidentified member of the superfamily of ATPases associated with various cellular activities (AAA(+)), whose deletion causes a unique morphological defect characterized by the formation of kinks close to cell tips. Through genetic analysis, we place Knk1 into a novel pathway controlling cell shape independently of MTs and Tea1. Knk1 localizes at cell tips. Its localization is mediated by the Knk1 N terminus and is enhanced upon ATP binding to the C-terminal ATPase domain. Furthermore, Knk1 tip recruitment is regulated by SRC-like adaptor 2 (Sla2) and cell division cycle 42 (Cdc42) independently of Sla2's role in endocytosis. Finally, we discovered that Knk1 shows an anticorrelated oscillatory behavior between the two cell tips at a periodicity that is different from the reported oscillatory Cdc42 dynamics.

  • Proper division plane positioning is essential to achieve faithful DNA segregation and to control daughter cell size, positioning, or fate within tissues. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, division plane positioning is controlled positively by export of the division plane positioning factor Mid1/anillin from the nucleus and negatively by the Pom1/DYRK (dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase) gradients emanating from cell tips. Pom1 restricts to the cell middle cortical cytokinetic ring precursor nodes organized by the SAD-like kinase Cdr2 and Mid1/anillin through an unknown mechanism. In this study, we show that Pom1 modulates Cdr2 association with membranes by phosphorylation of a basic region cooperating with the lipid-binding KA-1 domain. Pom1 also inhibits Cdr2 interaction with Mid1, reducing its clustering ability, possibly by down-regulation of Cdr2 kinase activity. We propose that the dual regulation exerted by Pom1 on Cdr2 prevents Cdr2 assembly into stable nodes in the cell tip region where Pom1 concentration is high, which ensures proper positioning of cytokinetic ring precursors at the cell geometrical center and robust and accurate division plane positioning.

  • The microtubule cytoskeleton plays important roles in cell polarity, motility and division. Microtubules inherently undergo dynamic instability, stochastically switching between phases of growth and shrinkage. In cells, some microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) and molecular motors can further modulate microtubule dynamics. We present here the fission yeast mtr1(+), a new regulator of microtubule dynamics that appears to be not a MAP or a motor. mtr1-deletion (mtr1Δ) primarily results in longer microtubule dwell-time at the cell tip cortex, suggesting that mtr1p acts directly or indirectly as a destabilizer of microtubules. mtr1p is antagonistic to mal3p, the ortholog of mammalian EB1, which stabilizes microtubules. mal3Δ results in short microtubules, but can be partially rescued by mtr1Δ, as the double mutant mal3Δ mtr1Δ exhibits longer microtubules than mal3Δ single mutant. By sequence homology, mtr1p is predicted to be a component of the ribosomal quality control complex. Intriguingly, deletion of a predicted ribosomal gene, rps1801, also resulted in longer microtubule dwell-time similar to mtr1Δ. The double-mutant mal3Δ rps1801Δ also exhibits longer microtubules than mal3Δ single mutant alone. Our study suggests a possible involvement of mtr1p and the ribosome complex in modulating microtubule dynamics.

  • Year of publication : 2013

  • Spatial control of cytokinesis is essential for proper cell division. The molecular mechanisms that anchor the dynamic assembly and constriction of the cytokinetic ring at the plasma membrane remain unclear. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the cytokinetic ring is assembled in the cell middle from cortical node precursors that are positioned by the anillin-like protein Mid1. During mitotic entry, cortical nodes mature and then compact into a contractile ring positioned in the cell middle. The molecular link between Mid1 and medial cortical nodes remains poorly defined. Here we show that Blt1, a previously enigmatic cortical node protein, promotes the robust association of Mid1 with cortical nodes. Blt1 interacts with Mid1 through the RhoGEF Gef2 to stabilize nodes at the cell cortex during the early stages of contractile ring assembly. The Blt1 N terminus is required for localization and function, while the Blt1 C terminus promotes cortical localization by interacting with phospholipids. In cells lacking membrane binding by both Mid1 and Blt1, nodes detach from the cell cortex and generate aberrant cytokinetic rings. We conclude that Blt1 acts as a scaffolding protein for precursors of the cytokinetic ring and that Blt1 and Mid1 provide overlapping membrane anchors for proper division plane positioning.

  • Metaphase describes a phase of mitosis where chromosomes are attached and oriented on the bipolar spindle for subsequent segregation at anaphase. In diverse cell types, the metaphase spindle is maintained at characteristic constant length [1-3]. Metaphase spindle length is proposed to be regulated by a balance of pushing and pulling forces generated by distinct sets of spindle microtubules (MTs) and their interactions with motors and MT-associated proteins (MAPs). Spindle length is further proposed to be important for chromosome segregation fidelity, as cells with shorter- or longer-than-normal metaphase spindles, generated through deletion or inhibition of individual mitotic motors or MAPs, showed chromosome segregation defects. To test the force-balance model of spindle length control and its effect on chromosome segregation, we applied fast microfluidic temperature control with live-cell imaging to monitor the effect of deleting or switching off different combinations of antagonistic force contributors in the fission yeast metaphase spindle. We show that the spindle midzone proteins kinesin-5 cut7p and MT bundler ase1p contribute to outward-pushing forces and that the spindle kinetochore proteins kinesin-8 klp5/6p and dam1p contribute to inward-pulling forces. Removing these proteins individually led to aberrant metaphase spindle length and chromosome segregation defects. Removing these proteins in antagonistic combination rescued the defective spindle length and in some combinations also partially rescued chromosome segregation defects.

  • Year of publication : 2011

  • BACKGROUND: Mitochondria form a dynamic tubular network within the cell. Proper mitochondria movement and distribution are critical for their localized function in cell metabolism, growth, and survival. In mammalian cells, mechanisms of mitochondria positioning appear dependent on the microtubule cytoskeleton, with kinesin or dynein motors carrying mitochondria as cargos and distributing them throughout the microtubule network. Interestingly, the timescale of microtubule dynamics occurs in seconds, and the timescale of mitochondria distribution occurs in minutes. How does the cell couple these two time constants? RESULTS: Fission yeast also relies on microtubules for mitochondria distribution. We report here a new microtubule-dependent but motor-independent mechanism for proper mitochondria positioning in fission yeast. We identify the protein mmb1p, which binds to mitochondria and microtubules. mmb1p attaches the tubular mitochondria to the microtubule lattice at multiple discrete interaction sites. mmb1 deletion causes mitochondria to aggregate, with the long-term consequence of defective mitochondria distribution and cell death. mmb1p decreases microtubule dynamicity. CONCLUSIONS: mmb1p is a new microtubule-mitochondria binding protein. We propose that mmb1p acts to couple long-term mitochondria distribution to short-term microtubule dynamics by attenuating microtubule dynamics, thus enhancing the mitochondria-microtubule interaction time.

  • In eukaryotes, cytokinesis generally involves an actomyosin ring, the contraction of which promotes daughter cell segregation. Assembly of the contractile ring is tightly controlled in space and time. In the fission yeast, contractile ring components are first organized by the anillin-like protein Mid1 into medial cortical nodes. These nodes then coalesce laterally into a functional contractile ring. Although Mid1 is present at the medial cortex throughout G2, recruitment of contractile ring components to nodes starts only at mitotic onset, indicating that this event is cell-cycle regulated. Polo kinases are key temporal coordinators of mitosis and cytokinesis, and the Polo-like kinase Plo1 is known to activate Mid1 nuclear export at mitotic onset, coupling division plane specification to nuclear position. Here we provide evidence that Plo1 also triggers the recruitment of contractile ring components into medial cortical nodes. Plo1 binds at least two independent sites on Mid1, including a consensus site phosphorylated by Cdc2. Plo1 phosphorylates several residues within the first 100 amino acids of Mid1, which directly interact with the IQGAP Rng2, and influences the timing of myosin II recruitment. Plo1 thereby facilitates contractile ring assembly at mitotic onset.

  • One major advantage of using genetically tractable model organisms such as the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is the ability to construct temperature-sensitive mutations in a gene. The resulting gene product or protein behaves as wildtype at permissive temperatures. At non-permissive or restrictive temperatures the protein becomes unstable and some or all of its functions are abrogated. The protein regains its function when returning to a permissive temperature. In principle, temperature-sensitive mutation enables precise temporal control of protein activity when coupled to a fast temperature controller. Current commercial temperature control devices do not have fast switching capability over a wide range of temperatures, making repeated temperature changes impossible or impractical at the cellular timescale of seconds or minutes. Microfabrication using soft-lithography is emerging as a powerful tool for cell biological research. We present here a simple disposable polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based microfluidic device capable of reversibly switching between 5 °C and 45 °C in less than 10 s. This device allows high-resolution live cell imaging with an oil immersion objective lens. We demonstrate the utility of this device for studying microtubule dynamics throughout the cell cycle.

  • Year of publication : 2009

  • The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe has served as an important model organism for investigating cellular morphogenesis. This unicellular rod-shaped fission yeast grows by tip extension and divides by medial fission. In particular, microtubules appear to define sites of polarized cell growth by delivering cell polarity factors to the cell tips. Microtubules also position the cell nucleus at the cell middle, marking sites of cell division. Here, we review the microtubule-dependent mechanisms that regulate cell shape and cell division in fission yeast.

  • Maintaining genome integrity and cellular function requires proper positioning of the cell division plane. In most eukaryotes, cytokinesis relies on a contractile actomyosin ring positioned by intrinsic spatial signals that are poorly defined at the molecular level. Fission yeast cells assemble a medial contractile ring in response to positive spatial cues from the nucleus at the cell center and negative spatial cues from the cell tips. These signals control the localization of the anillin-like protein Mid1, which defines the position of the division plane at the medial cortex, where it recruits contractile-ring components at mitosis onset. Here we show that Cdr2 kinase anchors Mid1 at the medial cortex during interphase through association with the Mid1 N terminus. This association underlies the negative regulation of Mid1 distribution by cell tips. We also demonstrate that the positive signaling from the nucleus is based on Mid1 nuclear export, which links division-plane position to nuclear position during early mitosis. After nuclear displacement, Mid1 nuclear export is dominant over Cdr2-dependent positioning of Mid1. We conclude that Cdr2- and nuclear export-dependent positioning of Mid1 constitute two overlapping mechanisms that relay cell polarity and nuclear positional information to ensure proper division-plane specification.

  • Many eukaryotic cell types undergo size-dependent cell cycle transitions controlled by the ubiquitous cyclin-dependent kinase Cdk1 (refs 1-4). The proteins that control Cdk1 activity are well described but their links with mechanisms monitoring cell size remain elusive. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, cells enter mitosis and divide at a defined and reproducible size owing to the regulated activity of Cdk1 (refs 2, 3). Here we show that the cell polarity protein kinase Pom1, which localizes to cell ends, regulates a signalling network that contributes to the control of mitotic entry. This network is located at cortical nodes in the middle of interphase cells, and these nodes contain the Cdk1 inhibitor Wee1, the Wee1-inhibitory kinases Cdr1 (also known as Nim1) and Cdr2, and the anillin-like protein Mid1. Cdr2 establishes the hierarchical localization of other proteins in the nodes, and receives negative regulatory signals from Pom1. Pom1 forms a polar gradient extending from the cell ends towards the cell middle and acts as a dose-dependent inhibitor of mitotic entry, working through the Cdr2 pathway. As cells elongate, Pom1 levels decrease at the cell middle, leading to mitotic entry. We propose that the Pom1 polar gradient and the medial cortical nodes generate information about cell size and coordinate this with mitotic entry by regulating Cdk1 through Pom1, Cdr2, Cdr1 and Wee1.

  • Year of publication : 2007

  • Microtubule (MT) nucleation not only occurs from centrosomes, but also in large part from dispersed nucleation sites. The subsequent sorting of short MTs into networks like the mitotic spindle requires molecular motors that laterally slide overlapping MTs and bundling proteins that statically connect MTs. How bundling proteins interfere with MT sliding is unclear. In bipolar MT bundles in fission yeast, we found that the bundler ase1p localized all along the length of antiparallel MTs, whereas the motor klp2p (kinesin-14) accumulated only at MT plus ends. Consequently, sliding forces could only overcome resistant bundling forces for short, newly nucleated MTs, which were transported to their correct position within bundles. Ase1p thus regulated sliding forces based on polarity and overlap length, and computer simulations showed these mechanisms to be sufficient to generate stable bipolar bundles. By combining motor and bundling proteins, cells can thus dynamically organize stable regions of overlap between cytoskeletal filaments.

  • Year of publication : 2006

  • In fission yeast, Mid1p, a major determinant for division plane position, defines a medial cortical compartment where it recruits myosin II at the onset of mitosis to initiate contractile ring assembly. How Mid1p is restricted to the medial cortex is unknown. We report here that in a pom1 polarity mutant, which displays a monopolar growth pattern, Mid1p distribution expands towards the non-growing cell tip, uncoupling Mid1p localization from nuclear position. This accounts for the displacement of the contractile ring during mitosis. By contrast, Mid1p localization is normal in a bud6Delta strain, indicating that Mid1p misdistribution is not a general consequence of monopolar growth. We conclude that Pom1 kinase acts as a negative regulator of Mid1p distribution, excluding Mid1p from non-growing ends, whereas a Pom1-independent mechanism prevents Mid1p association with growing ends. Our work therefore provides evidence that cell polarity regulators influence the distribution of Mid1p, linking division plane position to cell polarity.

  • Year of publication : 2005

  • The mechanism for forming linear microtubule (MT) arrays in cells such as neurons, polarized epithelial cells, and myotubes is not well understood. A simpler bipolar linear array is the fission yeast interphase MT bundle, which in its basic form contains two MTs that are bundled at their minus ends. Here, we characterize mto2p as a novel fission yeast protein required for MT nucleation from noncentrosomal gamma-tubulin complexes (gamma-TuCs). In interphase mto2Delta cells, MT nucleation was strongly inhibited, and MT bundling occurred infrequently and only when two MTs met by chance in the cytoplasm. In wild-type 2, we observed MT nucleation from gamma-TuCs bound along the length of existing MTs. We propose a model on how these nucleation events can more efficiently drive the formation of bipolar MT bundles in interphase. Key to the model is our observation of selective antiparallel binding of MTs, which can both explain the generation and spatial separation of multiple bipolar bundles.

  • Proper microtubule organization is essential for cellular processes such as organelle positioning during interphase and spindle formation during mitosis. The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe presents a good model for understanding microtubule organization. We identify fission yeast ase1p, a member of the conserved ASE1/PRC1/MAP65 family of microtubule bundling proteins, which functions in organizing the spindle midzone during mitosis. Using fluorescence live cell imaging, we show that ase1p localizes to sites of microtubule overlaps associated with microtubule organizing centers at both interphase and mitosis. ase1Delta mutants fail to form overlapping antiparallel microtubule bundles, leading to interphase nuclear positioning defects, and premature mitotic spindle collapse. FRAP analysis revealed that interphase ase1p at overlapping microtubule minus ends is highly dynamic. In contrast, mitotic ase1p at microtubule plus ends at the spindle midzone is more stable. We propose that ase1p functions to organize microtubules into overlapping antiparallel bundles both in interphase and mitosis and that ase1p may be differentially regulated through the cell cycle.

  • Year of publication : 2004

  • mid1p is a key factor for the central positioning of the cytokinetic ring in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. In interphase and early mitosis, mid1p forms a medial cortical band overlying the nucleus, which may represent a landmark for cytokinetic ring assembly. It compacts before anaphase into a tight ring with other cytokinetic ring components. We show here that mid1p binds to the medial cortex by at least two independent means. First, mid1p C-terminus association with the cortex requires a putative amphipathic helix adjacent to mid1p nuclear localization sequence (NLS), which is predicted to insert directly into the lipid bilayer. This association is stabilized by the polybasic NLS. mid1p mutated within the helix and the NLS forms abnormal filaments in early mitosis that are not properly anchored to the medial cortex. Misplaced rings assemble in late mitosis, indicating that mid1p C-terminus binding to membranes stabilizes cytokinetic ring position. Second, the N terminus of mid1p has the ability to associate faintly with the medial cortex and is sufficient to form tight rings. In addition, we show that mid1p oligomerizes. We propose that membrane-bound oligomers of mid1p assemble recruitment "platforms" for cytokinetic ring components at the medial cortex and stabilize the ring position during its compaction.