We report here a chromosomal protein that plays an essential role in mitotic chromosome condensation in Xenopus egg extracts. Two polypeptides, designated XCAP-C and XCAP-E, were found to associate with each other in the extracts, presumably forming a heterodimer. During chromosome assembly in mitotic extracts, XCAP-C/E was recruited to the chromatin and formed a discrete internal structure within assembled chromosomes. Antibody blocking experiments showed that XCAP-C function is required for both assembly and structural maintenance of mitotic chromosomes in vitro. Deduced amino acid sequences revealed that the two polypeptides share common structural motifs, consisting of an N-terminal NTP-binding domain, two central coiled-coil regions, and a C-terminal conserved domain. These motifs are highly conserved in a protein family, members of which have been identified recently in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
Microtubule polarity arises from the head-to-tail orientation of alpha-beta tubulin heterodimers in the microtubule lattice. The identity of the polypeptide at each end of the microtubule is unknown, but structural models predict that the beta-tubulin end contains an exchangeable guanosine triphosphate (GTP) binding site. When GTP-coated fluorescent beads were incubated with microtubules, they bound specifically to plus ends, suggesting that tubulin is oriented in microtubules with beta-tubulin toward the plus end.
We have investigated spreading of postmitotic PtK2 cells and the behavior of actin filaments in this system by time-lapse microscopy and photoactivation of fluorescence. During mitosis PtK2 cells round up and at cytokinesis the daughter cells spread back to regain their interphase morphology. Normal spreading edges are quite homogenous and are not comprised of two distinct areas (lamellae and lamellipodia) as found in moving edges of interphase motile cells. Spreading edges are connected to a network of long, thin, actin-rich fibers called retraction fibers. A role for retraction fibers in spreading was tested by mechanical disruption of fibers ahead of a spreading edge. Spreading is inhibited over the region of disruption, but not over neighboring intact fibers. Using photoactivation of fluorescence to mark actin filaments, we have determined that the majority of actin filaments move forward in spreading edges at the same rate as the edge. As far as we are aware, this is the first time that forward movement of a cell edge has been correlated with forward movement of actin filaments. In contrast, actin filaments in retraction fibers remain stationary with respect to the substrate. Thus there are at least two dynamic populations of actin polymer in spreading postmitotic cells. This is supported by the observation that actin filaments in some spreading edges not only move forward, but also separate into two fractions or broaden with time. A small fraction of postmitotic cells have a spreading edge with a distinct lamellipodium. In these edges, marked actin polymer fluxes backward with respect to substrate. We suggest that forward movement of actin filaments may participate in generating force for spreading in postmitotic cells and perhaps more generally for cell locomotion.
We have investigated the role of topoisomerase II (topo II) in mitotic chromosome assembly and organization in vitro using Xenopus egg extracts. When sperm chromatin was incubated with mitotic extracts, the highly compact chromatin rapidly swelled and concomitantly underwent local condensation. Further incubation induced the formation of entangled thin chromatin fibers that eventually resolved into highly condensed individual chromosomes. This in vitro system made it possible to manipulate mitotic chromosomes in their assembly condition without any isolation or stabilization steps. Two complementary approaches, immunodepletion and antibody blocking, demonstrated that topo II activity is required for chromosome assembly and condensation. Once condensation was completed, however, blocking of topo II activity had little effect on the chromosome morphology. Immunofluorescent studies showed that topo II was uniformly distributed throughout the condensed chromosomes and was not restricted to the chromosomal axis. Surprisingly, all detectable topo II molecules were easily extracted from the chromosomes under mild conditions where the shape of chromosomes was well preserved. Our results show that topo II is essential for mitotic chromosome assembly, but does not play a scaffolding role in the structural maintenance of chromosomes assembled in vitro. We also present evidence that changes of DNA topology affect the distribution of topo II in mitotic chromosomes in our system.
When PtK2 cells round up in mitosis they leave retraction fibers attached between the substrate and the cell body. Retraction fibers and the region where they meet the cell body are rich in actin filaments as judged by phalloidin staining and electron microscopy. Video microscopy was used to study actin dependent motile processes on retraction fibers. Small, phase-dense nodules form spontaneously on the fibers, and move in to the cell body at a rate of 3 microns/minute. As they move in they increase progressively in phase-density. This movement appears to be related to actin dependent centripetal movement which has been previously studied in lamellipodia. Despite its generality, the mechanism of such movement is unknown, and retraction fibers present some special advantages for its study. Cytochalasin treatment causes nodules to stop moving and dissolve. Withdrawal of the drug causes them to reform and start moving. Surprisingly, movement after cytochalasin withdrawal was often outward, indicating a local reversal of cortical polarity. After a few minutes correct polarity is reestablished by a global control mechanism. The implications of these observations for the mechanism and polarity of actin dependent motility is discussed.
To identify kinesin-related proteins that may be important for mitotic function in embryonic and tissue culture cells we have generated polyclonal antibodies to two synthetic peptides corresponding to conserved regions of the kinesin motor domain. In Xenopus eggs we have identified a family of microtubule-binding proteins, recognized by one or both affinity-purified peptide antibodies but not by monoclonal antibodies that recognize conventional kinesin heavy chain. Like kinesin, most of these proteins bind to microtubules only upon addition of AMP-PNP or nucleotide depletion and are released upon subsequent addition of ATP. At least one protein, however, exhibits markedly distinct properties, binding readily to microtubules in the absence of AMP-PNP and/or nucleotide depletion. We also report that, unlike antibodies to conventional kinesin, the peptide antibodies to the kinesin motor domain immunofluorescently label spindles and kinetochores in mitotic tissue culture cells, suggesting that kinesin-like proteins may have important roles in chromosome movement and mitosis.
We have investigated the dynamic behavior of actin in fibroblast lamellipodia using photoactivation of fluorescence. Activated regions of caged resorufin (CR)-labeled actin in lamellipodia of IMR 90 and MC7 3T3 fibroblasts were observed to move centripetally over time. Thus in these cells, actin filaments move centripetally relative to the substrate. Rates were characteristic for each cell type; 0.66 +/- 0.27 microns/min in IMR 90 and 0.36 +/- 0.16 microns/min in MC7 3T3 cells. In neither case was there any correlation between the rate of actin movement and the rate of lamellipodial protrusion. The half-life of the activated CR-actin filaments was approximately 1 min in IMR 90 lamellipodia, and approximately 3 min in MC7 3T3 lamellipodia. Thus continuous filament turnover accompanies centripetal movement. In both cell types, the length of time required for a section of the actin meshwork to traverse the lamellipodium was several times longer than the filament half-life. The dynamic behavior of the dorsal surface of the cell was also observed by tracking lectin-coated beads on the surface and phase-dense features within lamellipodia of MC7 3T3 cells. The movement of these dorsal features occurred at rates approximately three times faster than the rate of movement of the underlying bulk actin cytoskeleton, even when measured in the same individual cells. Thus the transport of these dorsal features must occur by some mechanism other than simple attachment to the moving bulk actin cytoskeleton.
Cell-substrate adhesion is crucial at various stages of development and for the maintenance of normal tissues. Little is known about the regulation of these adhesive interactions. To investigate the role of GTPases in the control of cell morphology and cell-substrate adhesion we have injected guanine nucleotide analogs into Xenopus XTC fibroblasts. Injection of GTP gamma S inhibited ruffling and increased spreading, suggesting an increase in adhesion. To further investigate this, we made use of GRGDSP, a peptide which inhibits binding of integrins to vitronectin and fibronectin. XTC fibroblasts injected with non-hydrolyzable analogs of GTP took much more time to round up than mock-injected cells in response to treatment with GRGDSP, while GDP beta S-injected cells rounded up in less time than controls. Injection with GTP gamma S did not inhibit cell rounding induced by trypsin however, showing that cell contractility is not significantly affected by the activation of GTPases. These data provide evidence for the existence of a GTPase which can control cell-substrate adhesion from the cytoplasm. Treatment of XTC fibroblasts with the phorbol ester 12-o-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate reduced cell spreading and accelerated cell rounding in response to GRGDSP, which is essentially opposite to the effect exerted by non-hydrolyzable GTP analogs. These results suggest the existence of at least two distinct pathways controlling cell-substrate adhesion in XTC fibroblasts, one depending on a GTPase and another one involving protein kinase C.
During cell division, sister chromosomes segregate from each other on a microtubule-based structure called the mitotic spindle. Proteins bind to the centromere, a region of chromosomal DNA, to form the kinetochore, which mediates chromosome attachment to the mitotic spindle microtubules. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, genetic analysis has shown that the 28-basepair (bp) CDEIII region of the 125-bp centromere DNA sequence (CEN sequence) is the main region controlling chromosome segregation in vivo. Therefore it is likely that proteins binding to the CDEIII region link the centromeres to the microtubules during mitosis. A complex of proteins (CBF3) that binds specifically to the CDEIII DNA sequence has been isolated by affinity chromatography. Here we describe kinetochore function in vitro. The CBF3 complex can link DNA to microtubules, and the complex contains a minus-end-directed microtubule-based motor. We suggest that microtubule-based motors form the fundamental link between microtubules and chromosomes at mitosis.
Intracellular microtubule motor proteins may direct the motile properties and/or morphogenesis of the mitotic spindle (reviewed in ref. 3). The recent identification of kinesin-like proteins important for mitosis or meiosis indicates that kinesin-related proteins may play a universal role in eukaryotic cell division, but the precise function of such proteins in mitosis remains unknown. Here we use an in vitro assay for spindle assembly, derived from Xenopus egg extracts, to investigate the role of Eg5, a kinesin-like protein in Xenopus eggs. Eg5 is localized along spindle microtubules, and particularly enriched near spindle poles. Immunodepletion of Eg5 from egg extracts markedly reduces the extent of spindle formation in extracts, as does direct addition of anti-Eg5 antibodies. We also demonstrate that Eg5 is a plus-end-directed microtubule motor in vitro. Our results suggest a novel mechanism for the dynamic self-organization of spindle poles in mitosis.
The actin cytoskeleton is intimately involved in the motile behaviour of animal cells. The structure and dynamic behaviour of actin and its binding proteins have been intensively studied in vitro over the past several decades, culminating in achievements such as an atomic model of the actin filament. Despite this progress, it is not yet clear how the behaviour of these purified proteins in vitro relates to the dynamic behaviour of actin inside living, moving cells. Here we discuss a new model that relates the known dynamic parameters for pure actin to the observed behaviour of actin filaments inside motile cells.
Microtubules in the mitotic spindles of newt lung cells were marked using local photoactivation of fluorescence. The movement of marked segments on kinetochore fibers was tracked by digital fluorescence microscopy in metaphase and anaphase and compared to the rate of chromosome movement. In metaphase, kinetochore oscillations toward and away from the poles were coupled to kinetochore fiber shortening and growth. Marked zones on the kinetochore microtubules, meanwhile, moved slowly polewards at a rate of approximately 0.5 micron/min, which identifies a slow polewards movement, or "flux," of kinetochore microtubules accompanied by depolymerization at the pole, as previously found in PtK2 cells (Mitchison, 1989b). Marks were never seen moving away from the pole, indicating that growth of the kinetochore microtubules occurs only at their kinetochore ends. In anaphase, marked zones on kinetochore microtubules also moved polewards, though at a rate slower than overall kinetochore-to-pole movement. Early in anaphase-A, microtubule depolymerization at kinetochores accounted on average for 75% of the rate of chromosome-to-pole movement, and depolymerization at the pole accounted for 25%. When chromosome-to-pole movement slowed in late anaphase, the contribution of depolymerization at the kinetochores lessened, and flux became the dominant component in some cells. Over the whole course of anaphase-A, depolymerization at kinetochores accounted on average for 63% of kinetochore fiber shortening, and flux for 37%. In some anaphase cells up to 45% of shortening resulted from the action of flux. We conclude that kinetochore microtubules change length predominantly through polymerization and depolymerization at the kinetochores during both metaphase and anaphase as the kinetochores move away from and towards the poles. Depolymerization, though not polymerization, also occurs at the pole during metaphase and anaphase, so that flux contributes to polewards chromosome movements throughout mitosis. Poleward force production for chromosome movements is thus likely to be generated by at least two distinct molecular mechanisms.
The Gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular pathogen capable of rapid movement through the host cell cytoplasm. The biophysical basis of the motility of L. monocytogenes is an interesting question in its own right, the answer to which may shed light on the general processes of actin-based motility in cells. Moving intracellular bacteria display phase-dense 'comet tails' made of actin filaments, the formation of which is required for bacterial motility. We have investigated the dynamics of the actin filaments in the comet tails using the technique of photoactivation of fluorescence, which allows monitoring of the movement and turnover of labelled actin filaments after activation by illumination with ultraviolet light. We find that the actin filaments remain stationary in the cytoplasm as the bacterium moves forward, and that length of the comet tails is linearly proportional to the rate of movement. Our results imply that the motile mechanism involves continuous polymerization and release of actin filaments at the bacterial surface and that the rate of filament generation is related to the rate of movement. We suggest that actin polymerization provides the driving force for bacterial propulsion.
The role of GTP hydrolysis in microtubule dynamics has been reinvestigated using an analogue of GTP, guanylyl-(alpha, beta)-methylene-diphosphonate (GMPCPP). This analogue binds to the tubulin exchangeable nucleotide binding site (E-site) with an affinity four to eightfold lower than GTP and promotes the polymerization of normal microtubules. The polymerization rate of microtubules with GMPCPP-tubulin is very similar to that of GTP-tubulin. However, in contrast to microtubules polymerized with GTP, GMPCPP-microtubules do not depolymerize rapidly after isothermal dilution. The depolymerization rate of GMPCPP-microtubules is 0.1 s-1 compared with 500 s-1 for GDP-microtubules. GMPCPP also completely suppresses dynamic instability. Contrary to previous work, we find that the beta--gamma bond of GMPCPP is hydrolyzed extremely slowly after incorporation into the microtubule lattice, with a rate constant of 4 x 10(-7) s-1. Because GMPCPP hydrolysis is negligible over the course of a polymerization experiment, it can be used to test the role of hydrolysis in microtubule dynamics. Our results provide strong new evidence for the idea that GTP hydrolysis by tubulin is not required for normal polymerization but is essential for depolymerization and thus for dynamic instability. Because GMPCPP strongly promotes spontaneous nucleation of microtubules, we propose that GTP hydrolysis by tubulin also plays the important biological role of inhibiting spontaneous microtubule nucleation.
Microtubules and actin filaments are organized into dynamic arrays inside cells. In this paper I discuss in conceptual form the assembly mechanisms of three specific arrays: asters, spindles and leading edge structures. The role of energy transducing processes, particularly motor protein activity, in assembly is explored. I conclude that dynamic interaction between motor proteins and cytoskeletal polymers play a very general role in spatial organization of the cytoplasm.
The dynamic behaviour of actin filaments has been directly observed in living, motile cells using fluorescence photoactivation. In goldfish epithelial keratocytes, the actin microfilaments in the lamellipodium remain approximately fixed relative to the substrate as the cell moves over them, regardless of cell speed. The rate of turnover of actin subunits in the lamellipodium is remarkably rapid. Cell movement is directly and tightly coupled to the formation of new actin filaments at the leading edge.
We have developed an in vitro system in which higher-order chromatin structures are assembled around naked DNAs in a cell cycle-dependent manner. Membrane-free soluble extracts specific to interphase and mitotic states were prepared from Xenopus eggs. When high molecular weight DNA is incubated with interphase extracts, fluffy chromatin-like structures are assembled. In contrast, mitotic extracts produce highly condensed chromosome-like structures. Immunofluorescence studies show that a monoclonal antibody MPM-2, which recognizes a class of mitosis-specific phosphoproteins, stains the "core" or "axis" of condensed mitotic chromatin but not interphase chromatin. By adding mitotic extracts, interphase chromatin structures are synchronously converted into the condensed state. The increasingly condensed state of chromatin correlates with the appearance and structural rearrangements of the MPM-2-stained structures. These results suggest that mitosis-specific phosphoproteins recognized by MPM-2 may be directly involved in the assembly of the chromosome scaffold-like structures and chromatin condensation. Although both extracts promote nucleosome assembly at the same rate, topoisomerase II (topo II) activity is four to five times higher in mitotic extracts compared with interphase extracts. The addition of a topo II inhibitor VM-26 into mitotic assembly mixtures disturbs the organization of the MPM-2-stained structures and affects the final stage of chromatin condensation. This in vitro system should be useful for identifying cis- and trans-acting elements responsible for higher-order chromatin assembly and its structural changes in the cell cycle.