We have used local fluorescence photoactivation to mark the lattice of spindle microtubules during anaphase A in Xenopus extract spindles. We find that both poleward spindle microtubule flux and anaphase A chromosome movement occur at similar rates ( approximately 2 microm/min). This result suggests that poleward microtubule flux, coupled to microtubule depolymerization near the spindle poles, is the predominant mechanism for anaphase A in Xenopus egg extracts. In contrast, in vertebrate somatic cells a "Pacman" kinetochore mechanism, coupled to microtubule depolymerization near the kinetochore, predominates during anaphase A. Consistent with the conclusion from fluorescence photoactivation analysis, both anaphase A chromosome movement and poleward spindle microtubule flux respond similarly to pharmacological perturbations in Xenopus extracts. Furthermore, the pharmacological profile of anaphase A in Xenopus extracts differs from the previously established profile for anaphase A in vertebrate somatic cells. The difference between these profiles is consistent with poleward microtubule flux playing the predominant role in anaphase chromosome movement in Xenopus extracts, but not in vertebrate somatic cells. We discuss the possible biological implications of the existence of two distinct anaphase A mechanisms and their differential contributions to poleward chromosome movement in different cell types.
Actin filament assembly at the cell surface of the pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes requires the bacterial ActA surface protein and the host cell Arp2/3 complex. Purified Arp2/3 complex accelerated the nucleation of actin polymerization in vitro, but pure ActA had no effect. However, when combined, the Arp2/3 complex and ActA synergistically stimulated the nucleation of actin filaments. This mechanism of activating the host Arp2/3 complex at the L. monocytogenes surface may be similar to the strategy used by cells to control Arp2/3 complex activity and hence the spatial and temporal distribution of actin polymerization.
BACKGROUND: In eukaryotes, assembly of the mitotic spindle requires the interaction of chromosomes with microtubules. During this process, several motor proteins that move along microtubules promote formation of a bipolar microtubule array, but the precise mechanism is unclear. In order to examine the roles of different motor proteins in building a bipolar spindle, we have used a simplified system in which spindles assemble around beads coated with plasmid DNA and incubated in extracts from Xenopus eggs. Using this system, we can study spindle assembly in the absence of paired cues, such as centrosomes and kinetochores, whose microtubule-organizing properties might mask the action of motor proteins.
RESULTS: We blocked the function of individual motor proteins in the Xenopus extracts using specific antibodies. Inhibition of Xenopus kinesin-like protein 1 (Xklp1) led either to the dissociation of chromatin beads from microtubule arrays, or to collapsed microtubule bundles on beads. Inhibition of Eg5 resulted in monopolar microtubule arrays emanating from chromatin beads. Addition of antibodies against dynein inhibited the focusing of microtubule ends into spindle poles in a dose-dependent manner. Inhibition of Xenopus carboxy-terminal kinesin 2 (XCTK2) affected both pole formation and spindle stability. Co-inhibition of XCTK2 and dynein dramatically increased the severity of spindle pole defects. Inhibition of Xklp2 caused only minor spindle pole defects.
CONCLUSIONS: Multiple microtubule-based motor activities are required for the bipolar organization of microtubules around chromatin beads, and we propose a model for the roles of the individual motor proteins in this process.
The microtubule cytoskeleton has lagged nearly a decade behind the actin cytoskeleton with respect to structural information on the basic polymer subunit. This structural inferiority complex has finally been lifted by two recent papers describing the structures of the alpha beta tubulin dimer and FtsZ, a protein similar to tubulin that is essential for cell division in prokaryotes.
The substitution of the sterically hindered carbon of the potent thyroid hormone agonist, GC-1, was effected by a reaction based on the solvolysis of the benzylic hydroxyl group. The reaction was found to proceed in high yield with a variety of nucleophiles including alcohols, thiols, allyl silanes and electron-rich aromatic compounds, providing a convenient route to the synthesis of new thyroid hormone analogues.
The septins are a family of proteins required for cytokinesis in a number of eukaryotic cell types. In budding yeast, these proteins are thought to be the structural components of a filament system present at the mother-bud neck, called the neck filaments. In this study, we report the isolation of a protein complex containing the yeast septins Cdc3p, Cdc10p, Cdc11p, and Cdc12p that is capable of forming long filaments in vitro. To investigate the relationship between these filaments and the neck filaments, we purified septin complexes from cells deleted for CDC10 or CDC11. These complexes were not capable of the polymerization exhibited by wild-type preparations, and analysis of the neck region by electron microscopy revealed that the cdc10Delta and cdc11Delta cells did not contain detectable neck filaments. These results strengthen the hypothesis that the septins are the major structural components of the neck filaments. Surprisingly, we found that septin dependent processes like cytokinesis and the localization of Bud4p to the neck still occurred in cdc10Delta cells. This suggests that the septins may be able to function in the absence of normal polymerization and the formation of a higher order filament structure.
Actin dynamics in lamellipodia are driven by continuous cycles of actin polymerization, retrograde flow, and depolymerization. In the past year, advances have been made in identifying signaling pathways that regulate actin-filament uncapping and polymerization, in determining the role of myosin motor proteins in retrograde flow, and in evaluating the role of severing proteins in actin depolymerization. Both Listeria monocytogenes and Saccharomyces cerevisiae have emerged as powerful model organisms for studying actin dynamics in cells.
The pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes is capable of directed movement within the cytoplasm of infected host cells. Propulsion is thought to be driven by actin polymerization at the bacterial cell surface, and moving bacteria leave in their wake a tail of actin filaments. Determining the mechanism by which L. monocytogenes polymerizes actin may aid the understanding of how actin polymerization is controlled in the cell. Actin assembly by L. monocytogenes requires the bacterial surface protein ActA and protein components present in host cell cytoplasm. We have purified an eight-polypeptide complex that possesses the properties of the host-cell actin polymerization factor. The pure complex is sufficient to initiate ActA-dependent actin polymerization at the surface of L. monocytogenes, and is required to mediate actin tail formation and motility. Two subunits of this protein complex are actin-related proteins (ARPs) belonging to the Arp2 and Arp3 subfamilies. The Arp3 subunit localizes to the surface of stationary bacteria and the tails of motile bacteria in tissue culture cells infected with L. monocytogenes; this is consistent with a role for the complex in promoting actin assembly in vivo. The activity and subunit composition of the Arp2/3 complex suggests that it forms a template that nucleates actin polymerization.
We have determined the structural organization and dynamic behavior of actin filaments in entire primary locomoting heart fibroblasts by S1 decoration, serial section EM, and photoactivation of fluorescence. As expected, actin filaments in the lamellipodium of these cells have uniform polarity with barbed ends facing forward. In the lamella, cell body, and tail there are two observable types of actin filament organization. A less abundant type is located on the inner surface of the plasma membrane and is composed of short, overlapping actin bundles (0.25-2.5 microm) that repeatedly alternate in polarity from uniform barbed ends forward to uniform pointed ends forward. This type of organization is similar to the organization we show for actin filament bundles (stress fibers) in nonlocomoting cells (PtK2 cells) and to the known organization of muscle sarcomeres. The more abundant type of actin filament organization in locomoting heart fibroblasts is mostly ventrally located and is composed of long, overlapping bundles (average 13 microm, but can reach up to about 30 microm) which span the length of the cell. This more abundant type has a novel graded polarity organization. In each actin bundle, polarity gradually changes along the length of the bundle. Actual actin filament polarity at any given point in the bundle is determined by position in the cell; the closer to the front of the cell the more barbed ends of actin filaments face forward. By photoactivation marking in locomoting heart fibroblasts, as expected in the lamellipodium, actin filaments flow rearward with respect to substrate. In the lamella, all marked and observed actin filaments remain stationary with respect to substrate as the fibroblast locomotes. In the cell body of locomoting fibroblasts there are two dynamic populations of actin filaments: one remains stationary and the other moves forward with respect to substrate at the rate of the cell body. This is the first time that the structural organization and dynamics of actin filaments have been determined in an entire locomoting cell. The organization, dynamics, and relative abundance of graded polarity actin filament bundles have important implications for the generation of motile force during primary heart fibroblast locomotion.
We have studied two types of cell motility directed toward the cell center: retraction of the cell margin and rearward flow of small cytoplasmic nodules during mitotic cell rounding in Potoroo tridactylis kidney (PtK2) cells by time-lapse video microscopy, drug treatments, and photoactivation of fluorescence. Nodules flow rearward on thin, actin-rich fibers (retraction fibers) exposed as the cell margin retracts. Retraction of the cell margin and rearward flow of nodules require intact actin filaments, but are insensitive to an inhibitor of myosin function (butanedione monoxime). Using photoactivation of fluorescence marking, we have determined that actin filaments in the majority of retraction fibers remain stationary while the cell margin retracts and nodules flow rearward. The pointed ends of retraction fiber actin filaments face the cell center. We argue that nodule motility is driven by a novel actin-based force that perhaps also partially contributes to retraction of the cell margin during cell rounding at mitosis.
The polymerization dynamics of microtubules are central to their biological functions. Polymerization dynamics allow microtubules to adopt spatial arrangements that can change rapidly in response to cellular needs and, in some cases, to perform mechanical work. Microtubules utilize the energy of GTP hydrolysis to fuel a unique polymerization mechanism termed dynamic instability. In this review, we first describe progress toward understanding the mechanism of dynamic instability of pure tubulin and then discuss the function and regulation of microtubule dynamic instability in living cells.
We used a peptide antibody to a conserved sequence in the motor domain of kinesins to screen a Xenopus ovary cDNA expression library. Among the clones isolated were two that encoded a protein we named XCTK2 for Xenopus COOH-terminal kinesin 2. XCTK2 contains an NH2-terminal globular domain, a central alpha-helical stalk, and a COOH-terminal motor domain. XCTK2 is similar to CTKs in other organisms and is most homologous to CHO2. Antibodies raised against XCTK2 recognize a 75-kD protein in Xenopus egg extracts that cosediments with microtubules. In Xenopus tissue culture cells, the anti-XCTK2 antibodies stain mitotic spindles as well as a subset of interphase nuclei. To probe the function of XCTK2, we have used an in vitro assay for spindle assembly in Xenopus egg extracts. Addition of antibodies to cytostatic factor-arrested extracts causes a 70% reduction in the percentage of bipolar spindles formed. XCTK2 is not required for maintenance of bipolar spindles, as antibody addition to preformed spindles has no effect. To further evaluate the function of XCTK2, we expressed XCTK2 in insect Sf-9 cells using the baculovirus expression system. When purified (recombinant XCTK2 is added to Xenopus egg extracts at a fivefold excess over endogenous levels) there is a stimulation in both the rate and extent of bipolar spindle formation. XCTK2 exists in a large complex in extracts and can be coimmunoprecipitated with two other proteins from extracts. XCTK2 likely plays an important role in the establishment and structural integrity of mitotic spindles.
The Arp2/3 protein complex has been implicated in the control of actin polymerization in cells. The human complex consists of seven subunits which include the actin related proteins Arp2 and Arp3, and five others referred to as p41-Arc, p34-Arc, p21-Arc, p20-Arc, and p16-Arc (p omplex). We have determined the predicted amino acid sequence of all seven subunits. Each has homologues in diverse eukaryotes, implying that the structure and function of the complex has been conserved through evolution. Human Arp2 and Arp3 are very similar to family members from other species. p41-Arc is a new member of the Sop2 family of WD (tryptophan and aspartate) repeat-containing proteins and may be posttranslationally modified, suggesting that it may be involved in regulating the activity and/or localization of the complex. p34-Arc, p21-Arc, p20-Arc, and p16-Arc define novel protein families. We sought to evaluate the function of the Arp2/3 complex in cells by determining its intracellular distribution. Arp3, p34-Arc, and p21-Arc were localized to the lamellipodia of stationary and locomoting fibroblasts, as well to Listeria monocytogenes assembled actin tails. They were not detected in cellular bundles of actin filaments. Taken together with the ability of the Arp2/3 complex to induce actin polymerization, these observations suggest that the complex promotes actin assembly in lamellipodia and may participate in lamellipodial protrusion.
Kinetochores are complex macromolecular structures that link mitotic chromosomes to spindle microtubules. Although a small number of kinetochore components have been identified, including the kinesins CENP-E and XKCM1 as well as cytoplasmic dynein, neither how these and other proteins are organized to produce a kinetochore nor their exact functions within this structure are understood. For this reason, we have developed an assay that allows kinetochore components to assemble onto discrete foci on in vitro-condensed chromosomes. The source of the kinetochore components is a clarified cell extract from Xenopus eggs that can be fractionated or immunodepleted of individual proteins. Kinetochore assembly in these clarified extracts requires preincubating the substrate sperm nuclei in an extract under low ATP conditions. Immunodepletion of XKCM1 from the extracts prevents the localization of kinetochore-associated XKCM1 without affecting the targeting of CENP-E and cytoplasmic dynein or the binding of monomeric tubulin to the kinetochore. Extension of this assay for the analysis of other components should help to dissect the protein-protein interactions involved in kinetochore assembly and function.