Taxol-stabilized microtubules can position the cytokinetic furrow in mammalian cells.
How microtubules act to position the plane of cell division during cytokinesis is a topic of much debate. Recently, we showed that a subpopulation of stable microtubules extends past chromosomes and interacts with the cell cortex at the site of furrowing, suggesting that these stabilized microtubules may stimulate contractility. To test the hypothesis that stable microtubules can position furrows, we used taxol to rapidly suppress microtubule dynamics during various stages of mitosis in PtK1 cells. Cells with stabilized prometaphase or metaphase microtubule arrays were able to initiate furrowing when induced into anaphase by inhibition of the spindle checkpoint. In these cells, few microtubules contacted the cortex. Furrows formed later than usual, were often aberrant, and did not progress to completion. Images showed that furrowing correlated with the presence of one or a few stable spindle microtubule plus ends at the cortex. Actin, myosin II, and anillin were all concentrated in these furrows, demonstrating that components of the contractile ring can be localized by stable microtubules. Inner centromere protein (INCENP) was not found in these ingressions, confirming that INCENP is dispensable for furrow positioning. Taxol-stabilization of the numerous microtubule-cortex interactions after anaphase onset delayed furrow initiation but did not perturb furrow positioning. We conclude that taxol-stabilized microtubules can act to position the furrow and that loss of microtubule dynamics delays the timing of furrow onset and prevents completion. We discuss our findings relative to models for cleavage stimulation. (+info
Bacterial shape and ActA distribution affect initiation of Listeria monocytogenes actin-based motility.
We have examined the process by which the intracellular bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes initiates actin-based motility and determined the contribution of the variable surface distribution of the ActA protein to initiation and steady-state movement. To directly correlate ActA distributions to actin dynamics and motility of live bacteria, ActA was fused to a monomeric red fluorescent protein (mRFP1). Actin comet tail formation and steady-state bacterial movement rates both depended on ActA distribution, which in turn was tightly coupled to the bacterial cell cycle. Motility initiation was found to be a highly complex, multistep process for bacteria, in contrast to the simple symmetry breaking previously observed for ActA-coated spherical beads. F-actin initially accumulated along the sides of the bacterium and then slowly migrated to the bacterial pole expressing the highest density of ActA as a tail formed. Early movement was highly unstable with extreme changes in speed and frequent stops. Over time, saltatory motility and sensitivity to the immediate environment decreased as bacterial movement became robust at a constant steady-state speed. (+info
Lamellipodial contractions during crawling and spreading.
Most eukaryotic cells can crawl over surfaces. In general, this motility requires three distinct actions: polymerization at the leading edge, adhesion to the substrate, and retraction at the rear. Recent experiments with mouse embryonic fibroblasts showed that during spreading and crawling the lamellipodium undergoes periodic contractions that are substrate-dependent. Here I show that a simple model incorporating stick-slip adhesion and a simplified mechanism for the generation of contractile forces is sufficient to explain periodic lamellipodial contractions. This model also explains why treatment of cells with latrunculin modifies the period of these contractions. In addition, by coupling a diffusing chemical species that can bind actin, such as myosin light-chain kinase, with the contractile model leads to periodic rows and waves in the chemical species, similar to what is observed in experiments. This model provides a novel and simple explanation for the generation of contractile waves during cell spreading and crawling that is only dependent on stick-slip adhesion and the generation of contractile force and suggests new experiments to test this mechanism. (+info
Periodic patterns of actin turnover in lamellipodia and lamellae of migrating epithelial cells analyzed by quantitative Fluorescent Speckle Microscopy.
We measured actin turnover in lamellipodia and lamellae of migrating cells, using quantitative Fluorescent Speckle Microscopy. Lamellae disassembled at low rates from the front to the back. However, the dominant feature in their turnover was a spatially random pattern of periodic polymerization and depolymerization moving with the retrograde flow. Power spectra contained frequencies between 0.5 and 1 cycle/min. The spectra remained unchanged when applying Latrunculin A and Jasplakinolide in low doses, except that additional frequencies occurred beyond 1 cycle/min. Whereas Latrunculin did not change the rate of mean disassembly, Jasplakinolide halted it completely, indicating that the steady state and the dynamics of actin turnover are differentially affected by pharmacological agents. Lamellipodia assembled in recurring bursts at the leading edge and disassembled approximately 2.5 microm behind. Events of polymerization correlated spatially and temporally with transient formation of Arp2/3 clusters. In lamellae, Arp2/3 accumulation and polymerization correlated only spatially, suggesting an Arp2/3-independent mechanism for filament nucleation. To acquire these data we had to enhance the resolution of quantitative Fluorescent Speckle Microscopy to the submicron level. Several algorithmic advances in speckle image processing are described enabling the analysis of kinetic and kinematic activities of polymer networks at the level of single speckles. (+info
Lysed cell models and isolated chromosomes for the study of kinetochore/centromere biochemistry in vitro.
The centromere or kinetochore functions in both chromosome movement and in regulation of progression through mitosis. It appears likely that the signaling pathways involved are keenly dependent on solid phase cytoskeletal and karyoskeletal scaffolds that may mediate important physical signals such as tension. Understanding these pathways will be greatly aided by reconstructing the signaling in lysed cell models. Here we present approaches to the in vitro study of signaling pathways in mitotic cells, particularly those involved in protein phosphorylation changes at kinetochores that may control cell cycle progression in M phase. (+info
Chromosomes can congress to the metaphase plate before biorientation.
The stable propagation of genetic material during cell division depends on the congression of chromosomes to the spindle equator before the cell initiates anaphase. It is generally assumed that congression requires that chromosomes are connected to the opposite poles of the bipolar spindle ("bioriented"). In mammalian cells, we found that chromosomes can congress before becoming bioriented. By combining the use of reversible chemical inhibitors, live-cell light microscopy, and correlative electron microscopy, we found that monooriented chromosomes could glide toward the spindle equator alongside kinetochore fibers attached to other already bioriented chromosomes. This congression mechanism depended on the kinetochore-associated, plus end-directed microtubule motor CENP-E (kinesin-7). (+info
In vivo quantitative studies of dynamic intracellular processes using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy.
It has been a significant challenge to quantitatively study the dynamic intracellular processes in live cells. These studies are essential for a thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms regulating the signaling pathways and the transitions between cell cycle stages. Our studies of Cdc20, an important mitotic checkpoint protein, throughout the cell cycle demonstrate that fluorescence correlation spectroscopy is a powerful tool for in vivo quantitative studies of dynamic intracellular processes. In this study, Cdc20 is found to be present primarily in a large complex (>1 Mda) during interphase with a diffusion constant of 1.8+/-0.1 microm2/s and a concentration of 76+/-24 nM, consistent with its association with the APC/C. During mitosis, however, a proportion of Cdc20 dissociates from APC/C at a rate of 12 pM/s into a soluble pool with a diffusion constant of 19.5+/-5.0 microm2/s, whose size is most consistent with free Cdc20. This free pool accumulates to 50% of total Cdc20 (approximately 40 nM) during chronic activation of the mitotic checkpoint but disappears during mitotic exit at a rate of 31 pM/s. The observed changes in the biochemical assembly states of Cdc20 closely correlate to the known temporal pattern of the activity of APC/CCdc20 in mitosis. Photon counting histograms reveal that both complexes contain only a single molecule of Cdc20. The underlying mechanisms of the activities of APC/CCdc20 throughout the cell cycle are discussed in light of our experimental observations. (+info
Defining the regulatory elements in the proximal promoter of DeltaNp63 in keratinocytes: Potential roles for Sp1/Sp3, NF-Y, and p63.
p63, a homolog of the tumor suppressor p53, plays an important role in the formation of stratified epithelium such as those in the epidermis of the skin. The p63 gene gives rise to multiple functionally distinct protein isoforms, including the DeltaNp63 class of isoforms, which lacks the N-terminal transactivation domain and is synthesized from an internal promoter. DeltaNp63 proteins are the predominant isoforms expressed in keratinocytes and are thought to be important for maintenance of the proliferative capacity of these cells. Here, we have examined the transcriptional control mechanisms that govern the expression DeltaNp63 in keratinocytes. We first performed DNase I hypersensitive site mapping and demonstrated that the promoter region of DeltaNp63 is in open chromatin state in keratinocytes. To identify the cis-elements that regulate DeltaNp63, we have performed transient transfection assays in keratinocytes with several DeltaNp63 promoter constructs. This identified a short evolutionarily conserved fragment that harbors most of the transcriptional activity of the DeltaNp63 promoter. Biochemical studies of this element have revealed critical roles for CCAAT-box-binding factor (CBF/NF-Y) and Sp1/Sp3 family of proteins. In addition, our data suggest that DeltaNp63 is recruited to and can activate its own promoter, possibly through protein-protein interactions, thus providing an auto-regulatory loop of self-regulation. These studies support the notion that unique and distinct pathways control the expression of individual p53 family members and their various isoforms. (+info