Publications

1991
Symons MH, Mitchison TJ. Control of actin polymerization in live and permeabilized fibroblasts. J Cell Biol. 1991;114 (3) :503-13.Abstract
We have investigated the spatial control of actin polymerization in fibroblasts using rhodamine-labeled muscle actin in; (a) microinjection experiments to follow actin dynamics in intact cells, and (b) incubation with permeabilized cells to study incorporation sites. Rhodamine-actin was microinjected into NIH-3T3 cells which were then fixed and stained with fluorescein-phalloidin to visualize total actin filaments. The incorporation of newly polymerized actin was assayed using rhodamine/fluorescein ratio-imaging. The results indicated initial incorporation of the injected actin near the tip and subsequent transport towards the base of lamellipodia at rates greater than 4.5 microns/min. Furthermore, both fluorescein- and rhodamine-intensity profiles across lamellipodia revealed a decreasing density of actin filaments from tip to base. From this observation and the presence of centripetal flux of polymerized actin we infer that the actin cytoskeleton partially disassembles before it reaches the base of the lamellipodium. In permeabilized cells we found that, in agreement with the injection studies, rhodamine-actin incorporated predominantly in a narrow strip of less than 1-microns wide, located at the tip of lamellipodia. The critical concentration for the rhodamine-actin incorporation (0.15 microM) and its inhibition by CapZ, a barbed-end capping protein, indicated that the nucleation sites for actin polymerization most likely consist of free barbed ends of actin filaments. Because any potential monomer-sequestering system is bypassed by addition of exogenous rhodamine-actin to the permeabilized cells, these observations indicate that the localization of actin incorporation in intact cells is determined, at least in part, by the presence of specific elongation and/or nucleation sites at the tips of lamellipodia and not solely by localized desequestration of subunits. We propose that the availability of the incorporation sites at the tips of lamellipodia is because of capping activities which preferentially inhibit barbed-end incorporation elsewhere in the cell, but leave barbed ends at the tips of lamellipodia free to add subunits.
Reinsch SS, Mitchison TJ, Kirschner M. Microtubule polymer assembly and transport during axonal elongation. J Cell Biol. 1991;115 (2) :365-79.Abstract
As axons elongate, tubulin, which is synthesized in the cell body, must be transported and assembled into new structures in the axon. The mechanism of transport and the location of assembly are presently unknown. We report here on the use of tubulin tagged with a photoactivatable fluorescent group to investigate these issues. Photoactivatable tubulin, microinjected into frog embryos at the two-cell stage, is incorporated into microtubules in neurons obtained from explants of the neural tube. When activated by light, a fluorescent mark is made on the microtubules in the axon, and transport and turnover can be visualized directly. We find that microtubules are generated in or near the cell body and continually transported distally as a coherent phase of polymer during axon elongation. This vectorial polymer movement was observed at all levels on the axon, even in the absence of axonal elongation. Measurements of the rate of polymer translocation at various places in the axon suggest that new polymer is formed by intercalary assembly along the axon and assembly at the growth cone in addition to transport of polymer from the cell body. Finally, polymer movement near the growth cone appeared to respond in a characteristic manner to growth cone behavior, while polymer proximally in the axon moved more consistently. These results suggest that microtubule translocation is the principal means of tubulin transport and that translocation plays an important role in generating new axon structure at the growth cone.
Sawin KE, Mitchison TJ. Mitotic spindle assembly by two different pathways in vitro. J Cell Biol. 1991;112 (5) :925-40.Abstract
We have used Xenopus egg extracts to study spindle morphogenesis in a cell-free system and have identified two pathways of spindle assembly in vitro using methods of fluorescent analogue cytochemistry. When demembranated sperm nuclei are added to egg extracts arrested in a mitotic state, individual nuclei direct the assembly of polarized microtubule arrays, which we term half-spindles; half-spindles then fuse pairwise to form bipolar spindles. In contrast, when sperm nuclei are added to extracts that are induced to enter interphase and arrested in the following mitosis, a single sperm nucleus can direct the assembly of a complete spindle. We find that microtubule arrays in vitro are strongly biased towards chromatin, but this does not depend on specific kinetochore-microtubule interactions. Indeed, although we have identified morphological and probably functional kinetochores in spindles assembled in vitro, kinetochores appear not to play an obligate role in the establishment of stable, bipolar microtubule arrays in either assembly pathway. Features of the two pathways suggest that spindle assembly involves a hierarchy of selective microtubule stabilization, involving both chromatin-microtubule interactions and antiparallel microtubule-microtubule interactions, and that fundamental molecular interactions are probably the same in both pathways. This in vitro reconstitution system should be useful for identifying the molecules regulating the generation of asymmetric microtubule arrays and for understanding spindle morphogenesis in general.
Sawin KE, Mitchison TJ. Poleward microtubule flux mitotic spindles assembled in vitro. J Cell Biol. 1991;112 (5) :941-54.Abstract
In the preceding paper we described pathways of mitotic spindle assembly in cell-free extracts prepared from eggs of Xenopus laevis. Here we demonstrate the poleward flux of microtubules in spindles assembled in vitro, using a photoactivatable fluorescein covalently coupled to tubulin and multi-channel fluorescence videomicroscopy. After local photoactivation of fluorescence by UV microbeam, we observed poleward movement of fluorescein-marked microtubules at a rate of 3 microns/min, similar to rates of chromosome movement and spindle elongation during prometaphase and anaphase. This movement could be blocked by the addition of millimolar AMP-PNP but was not affected by concentrations of vanadate up to 150 microM, suggesting that poleward flux may be driven by a microtubule motor similar to kinesin. In contrast to previous results obtained in vivo (Mitchison, T. J. 1989. J. Cell Biol. 109:637-652), poleward flux in vitro appears to occur independently of kinetochores or kinetochore microtubules, and therefore may be a general property of relatively stable microtubules within the spindle. We find that microtubules moving towards poles are dynamic structures, and we have estimated the average half-life of fluxing microtubules in vitro to be between approximately 75 and 100 s. We discuss these results with regard to the function of poleward flux in spindle movements in anaphase and prometaphase.
Hyman AA, Mitchison TJ. Regulation of the direction of chromosome movement. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 1991;56 :745-50.
Hyman AA, Mitchison TJ. Two different microtubule-based motor activities with opposite polarities in kinetochores. Nature. 1991;351 (6323) :206-11.Abstract
The movement of microtubules on the kinetochores of isolated chromosomes has been examined by video microscopy. Two different microtubule-based motors on the kinetochore were identified, which have opposite directions of movement. The activities of these two motors can be regulated by factors that can influence phosphorylation.
1990
Mitchison TJ. Mitosis. The kinetochore in captivity. Nature. 1990;348 (6296) :14-5.
Hyman AA, Mitchison TJ. Modulation of microtubule stability by kinetochores in vitro. J Cell Biol. 1990;110 (5) :1607-16.Abstract
The interface between kinetochores and microtubules in the mitotic spindle is known to be dynamic. Kinetochore microtubules can both polymerize and depolymerize, and their dynamic behavior is intimately related to chromosome movement. In this paper we investigate the influence of kinetochores on the inherent dynamic behavior of microtubules using an in vitro assay. The dynamics of microtubule plus ends attached to kinetochores are compared to those of free plus ends in the same solution. We show that microtubules attached to kinetochores exhibit the full range of dynamic instability behavior, but at altered transition rates. Surprisingly, we find that kinetochores increase the rate at which microtubule ends transit from growing to shrinking. This result contradicts our previous findings (Mitchison, T. J., and M. W. Kirschner, 1985b) for technical reasons which are discussed. We suggest that catalysis of the growing to shrinking transition by kinetochores may account for selective depolymerization of kinetochore microtubules during anaphase in vivo. We also investigate the effects of a nonhydrolyzable ATP analogue on kinetochore microtubule dynamics. We find that 5' adenylylimido diphosphate induces a rigor state at the kinetochore-microtubule interface, which prevents depolymerization of the microtubule.
Belmont LD, Hyman AA, Sawin KE, Mitchison TJ. Real-time visualization of cell cycle-dependent changes in microtubule dynamics in cytoplasmic extracts. Cell. 1990;62 (3) :579-89.Abstract
Using Xenopus egg extracts arrested in interphase or mitosis, we directly observed differences in microtubule dynamics at different stages of the cell cycle. Interphase extracts were prepared from eggs in the first interphase after meiosis. Mitotic extracts were prepared by addition of purified cyclin to interphase extracts. Microtubules were nucleated by the addition of centrosomes and visualized by fluorescence video-microscopy in extracts to which rhodamine-labeled tubulin had been added. We found a striking difference in microtubule dynamics in mitotic versus interphase extracts. Quantitative analysis revealed that the rates of polymerization and depolymerization are similar in interphase and mitosis and that within the spatial and temporal resolution of our experiments the difference in dynamics is due almost entirely to an increase in the frequency of transition from growing to shrinking (catastrophe frequency) in the mitotic extracts.
Mitchison TJ, Sawin KE. Tubulin flux in the mitotic spindle: where does it come from, where is it going?. Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1990;16 (2) :93-8.
1989
Chain BM, Mitchison NA, Mitchison TJ, Davies DH, Marcinkiewicz J. Antigen processing: current issues, exceptional cases (Thy 1 alloantigen, MHC class-II-restricted cytolytic T cells), and implications for vaccine development. J Autoimmun. 1989;2 Suppl :45-53.Abstract
A dogmatic view of antigen processing is presented in outline, followed by a survey of unresolved issues in the subject. The activity of Thy 1 as an alloantigen, and allospecific MHC Class-II-restricted cytolytic T cells offer examples of exceptional cases of antigen presentation. Implications for the design of vaccines are drawn.
Mitchison TJ. Mitosis: basic concepts. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 1989;1 (1) :67-74.
Mitchison TJ. Polewards microtubule flux in the mitotic spindle: evidence from photoactivation of fluorescence. J Cell Biol. 1989;109 (2) :637-52.Abstract
I have synthesized a novel derivative of carboxyfluorescein that is nonfluorescent, but can be converted to a fluorescent form by exposure to 365-nm light. This photoactivable, fluorescent probe was covalently attached to tubulin and microinjected into mitotic tissue culture cells, where it incorporated into functional spindles. To generate a fluorescent bar across the mitotic spindle, metaphase cells were irradiated with a slit microbeam. This bar decreased in intensity over the first minute, presumably due to turnover of nonkinetochore microtubules. The remaining fluorescent zones, now presumably restricted to kinetochore microtubules, moved polewards at 0.3-0.7 microns/min. This result provides strong evidence for polewards flux in kinetochore microtubules. In conjunction with earlier biotin-tubulin incorporation experiments (Mitchison, T. J., L. Evans, E. Schulze, and M. Kirschner. 1986. Cell. 45:515-527), I conclude that microtubules polymerize at kinetochores and depolymerize near the poles throughout metaphase. The significance of this observation for spindle structure and function is discussed. Local photoactivation of fluorescence should be a generally useful method for following molecular dynamics inside living cells.
1988
Kellogg DR, Mitchison TJ, Alberts BM. Behaviour of microtubules and actin filaments in living Drosophila embryos. Development. 1988;103 (4) :675-86.Abstract
We describe the preparation of novel fluorescent derivatives of rabbit muscle actin and bovine tubulin, and the use of these derivatives to study the behaviour of actin filaments and microtubules in living Drosophila embryos, in which the nuclei divide at intervals of 8 to 21 min. The fluorescently labelled proteins appear to function normally in vitro and in vivo, and they allow continuous observation of the cytoskeleton in living embryos without perturbing development. By coinjecting labelled actin and tubulin into the early syncytial embryo, the spatial relationships between the distinct filament networks that they form can be followed second by second. The dynamic rearrangements of actin filaments and microtubules observed confirms and extends results obtained from previous studies, in which fixation techniques and specific staining were used to visualize the cytoskeleton in the Drosophila embryo. However, no tested fixation method produces an exact representation of the in vivo microtubule distribution.
Mitchison TJ. Microtubule dynamics and kinetochore function in mitosis. Annu Rev Cell Biol. 1988;4 :527-49.
Koshland DE, Mitchison TJ, Kirschner MW. Polewards chromosome movement driven by microtubule depolymerization in vitro. Nature. 1988;331 (6156) :499-504.Abstract
We constructed complexes between isolated chromosomes and microtubules made from purified tubulin to study the movement of chromosomes towards the 'minus' end of microtubules in vitro, a process analogous to the movement of chromosomes towards the pole of the spindle at anaphase of mitosis. Our results show that the energy for this movement is derived solely from microtubule depolymerization, and indicate that anaphase movement of chromosomes is both powered and regulated by microtubule depolymerization at the kinetochore.
1987
Mitchison TJ. Cell motility: good things from slime. Nature. 1987;328 (6132) :665.
Mitchison TJ, Kirschner MW. Some thoughts on the partitioning of tubulin between monomer and polymer under conditions of dynamic instability. Cell Biophys. 1987;11 :35-55.Abstract
We have considered the partitioning of tubulin between monomer and polymer in the cell under conditions of dynamic instability. Dynamic instability adds to the on and off rate constant of steady-state dynamics' new parameters: (1) the rate at which growing microtubules transit to a shrinking phase; and (2) the rate at which shrinking microtubules transit to the growing phase. Under these conditions the free-monomer concentration in the cell increases with total tubulin if the number of nucleating sites is fixed. If the number of nucleating sites increases at fixed total tubulin, subunits shift from the monomer to the polymer phase. These important properties deviate from the traditional equilibrium and steady-state theories and have important implications for the biosynthetic regulation of tubulin.
1986
Mitchison TJ, Kirschner MW. Isolation of mammalian centrosomes. Methods Enzymol. 1986;134 :261-8.
Mitchison TJ. The role of microtubule polarity in the movement of kinesin and kinetochores. J Cell Sci Suppl. 1986;5 :121-8.Abstract
Microtubules are important for organizing and directing many types of intracellular motility. Recently progress has been made in the analysis of two types of motility at the molecular level: the movement of axonal vesicles driven by kinesin, and the movement of chromosomes driven by the kinetochore. Both require ATP for movement in vitro. Kinesin-driven movement is unidirectional, towards the microtubule plus end, while movement of the kinetochore is bidirectional. These similarities and differences are discussed and incorporated into a new model for the kinetochore-microtubule interface.

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