Actin-dependent propulsion of Listeria monocytogenes is thought to require frequent nucleation of actin polymerization by the Arp2/3 complex. We demonstrate that L. monocytogenes motility can be separated into an Arp2/3-dependent nucleation phase and an Arp2/3-independent elongation phase. Elongation-based propulsion requires a unique set of biochemical factors in addition to those required for Arp2/3-dependent motility. We isolated fascin from brain extracts as the only soluble factor required in addition to actin during the elongation phase for this type of movement. The nucleation reaction assembles a comet tail of branched actin filaments directly behind the bacterium. The elongation-based reaction generates a hollow cylinder of parallel bundles that attach along the sides of the bacterium. Bacteria move faster in the elongation reaction than in the presence of Arp2/3, and the rate is limited by the concentration of G-actin. The biochemical and structural differences between the two motility reactions imply that each operates through distinct biochemical and biophysical mechanisms.
We show here that affinity-purified Saccharomyces cerevisiae septin complexes contain stoichiometric amounts of guanine nucleotides, specifically GTP and GDP. Using a (15)N-dilution assay read-out by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, we determined that the majority of the bound guanine nucleotides do not turn over in vivo during one cell cycle period. In vitro, the isolated S. cerevisiae septin complexes have similar GTP binding and hydrolytic properties to the Drosophila septin complexes (Field, C. M., al-Awar, O., Rosenblatt, J., Wong, M. L., Alberts, B., and Mitchison, T. J. (1996) J. Cell Biol. 133, 605-616). In particular, the GTP turnover of septins is very slow when compared with the GTP turnover for Ras-like GTPases. We conclude that bound GTP and GDP play a structural, rather then regulatory, role for the majority of septins in proliferating cells as GTP does for alpha-tubulin.
Microtubule dynamics underlie spindle assembly, yet we do not know how the spindle environment affects these dynamics. We developed methods for measuring two key parameters of microtubule plus-end dynamic instability in Xenopus egg extract spindles. To measure plus-end polymerization rates and localize growing plus ends, we used fluorescence confocal imaging of EB1. This revealed plus-end polymerization throughout the spindle at approximately 11 microm/min, similar to astral microtubules, suggesting polymerization velocity is not regionally regulated by the spindle. The ratio of EB1 to microtubule fluorescence revealed an enrichment of polymerizing ends near the spindle middle, indicating enhanced nucleation or rescue there. We measured depolymerization rates by creating a front of synchronized depolymerization in spindles severed with microneedles. This front could be tracked by polarization and fluorescence microscopy as it advanced from each cut edge toward the associated pole. Both imaging modalities revealed rapid depolymerization ( approximately 30 microm/min) superimposed on a subset of microtubules stable to depolymerization. Larger spindle fragments contained a higher percentage of stable microtubules, which we believe were oriented with their minus ends facing the cut. Depolymerization was blocked by the potent microtubule stabilizing agent hexylene glycol, but was unaffected by alpha-MCAK antibody and AMPPNP, which block catastrophe and kinesin motility, respectively. These measurements move us closer to understanding the complete life history of a spindle microtubule.
Protein inclusions are associated with a number of neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Whether protein aggregates are toxic or beneficial to cells is not known. In ALS animal models, mutant SOD1 forms aggresome-like structures in motor neurons and astrocytes. To better understand the role of protein aggregation in the progression of disease etiology, we performed a screen for small molecules that disrupt aggresome formation in cultured cells. After screening 20,000 compounds, we obtained two groups of compounds that specifically prevented aggresome formation. One group consists mainly of cardiac glycosides and will be the subject of another study. The second group contains two compounds: one is a known histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, Scriptaid, and the other is a Flavin analog, DPD. Cells treated with these molecules still contained microaggregates, but these microaggregates were not transported to microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs). The defect in transport was linked to modulation of the dynein/dynactin machinery as treatment with Scriptaid or DPD reversed mSOD-induced insolubilization of the dynactin subunits P50 dynamitin and P150(glued). Our findings suggest a connection between HDAC activity and aggresome formation and also lay the groundwork for a direct test of the role of aggresome formation in ALS etiology.
FtsZ is a prokaryotic tubulin homologue that polymerizes into a dynamic ring during cell division. GTP binding and hydrolysis provide the energy for FtsZ dynamics. However, the precise role of hydrolysis in polymer assembly and turnover is not understood, limiting our understanding of how FtsZ functions in the cell. Here we investigate GTP hydrolysis during the FtsZ polymerization cycle using several complementary approaches that avoid technical caveats of previous studies. We find that at steady state approximately 80% of FtsZ polymer subunits are bound to GTP. In addition, we use pre-steady-state, single turnover assays to directly measure the rate of hydrolysis. Hydrolysis was found to occur at approximately 8/min and to be a rate-limiting step in GTP turnover; phosphate release rapidly followed. These results clarify previously conflicting results in the literature and suggest that pure FtsZ polymers, unlike microtubules, may not be able to undergo dynamic instability or to store energy in the polymer for force production.
Toxoplasma gondii is the most common protozoan parasite of humans. Infection with T. gondii can lead to life-threatening disease as a result of repeated cycles of host cell invasion, parasite replication, and host cell lysis. Relatively little is known about the invasive mechanisms of T. gondii and related parasites within the Phylum Apicomplexa (including Plasmodium spp., the causative agents of malaria), due to difficulties associated with studying genes essential to invasion in haploid obligate intracellular organisms. To circumvent this problem, we have developed a high-throughput microscope-based assay, which we have used to screen a collection of 12,160 structurally diverse small molecules for inhibitors of T. gondii invasion. A total of 24 noncytotoxic invasion inhibitors were identified. Secondary assays demonstrated that different inhibitors perturb different aspects of invasion, including gliding motility, secretion of host cell adhesins from apical organelles (the micronemes), and extension of a unique tubulin-based structure at the anterior of the parasite (the conoid). Unexpectedly, the screen also identified six small molecules that dramatically enhance invasion, gliding motility, and microneme secretion. The small molecules identified here reveal a previously unrecognized complexity in the control of parasite motility and microneme secretion, and they constitute a set of useful probes for dissecting the invasive mechanisms of T. gondii and related parasites. Small-molecule-based approaches provide a powerful means to address experimentally challenging problems in host-pathogen interaction, while simultaneously identifying new potential targets for drug development.
We investigated the mechanism by which meiotic spindles become bipolar and the correlation between bipolarity and poleward flux, using Xenopus egg extracts. By speckle microscopy and computational alignment, we find that monopolar sperm asters do not show evidence for flux, partially contradicting previous work. We account for the discrepancy by describing spontaneous bipolarization of sperm asters that was missed previously. During spontaneous bipolarization, onset of flux correlated with onset of bipolarity, implying that antiparallel microtubule organization may be required for flux. Using a probe for TPX2 in addition to tubulin, we describe two pathways that lead to spontaneous bipolarization, new pole assembly near chromatin, and pole splitting. By inhibiting the Ran pathway with excess importin-alpha, we establish a role for chromatin-derived, antiparallel overlap bundles in generating the sliding force for flux, and we examine these bundles by electron microscopy. Our results highlight the importance of two processes, chromatin-initiated microtubule nucleation, and sliding forces generated between antiparallel microtubules, in self-organization of spindle bipolarity and poleward flux.
In higher eukaryotes, microtubules (MT) in both halves of the mitotic spindle translocate continuously away from the midzone in a phenomenon called poleward microtubule flux. Because the spindle maintains constant length and microtubule density, this microtubule translocation must somehow be coupled to net MT depolymerization at spindle poles. The molecular mechanisms underlying both flux-associated translocation and flux-associated depolymerization are not well understood, but it can be predicted that blocking pole-based destabilization will increase spindle length, an idea that has not been tested in meiotic spindles. Here, we show that simultaneous addition of two pole-disrupting reagents p50/dynamitin and a truncated version of Xklp2 results in continuous spindle elongation in Xenopus egg extracts, and we quantitatively correlate this elongation rate with the poleward translocation of stabilized microtubules. We further use this system to demonstrate that this poleward translocation requires the activity of the kinesin-related protein Eg5. These results suggest that Eg5 is responsible for flux-associated MT translocation and that dynein and Xklp2 regulate flux-associated microtubule depolymerization at spindle poles.
BACKGROUND: Cell migration is a complex phenomenon that requires the coordination of numerous cellular processes. Investigation of cell migration and its underlying biology is of interest to basic scientists and those in search of therapeutics. Current migration assays for screening small molecules, siRNAs, or other perturbations are difficult to perform in parallel at the scale required to screen large libraries.
RESULTS: We have adapted the commonly used scratch wound healing assay of tissue-culture cell monolayers to a 384 well plate format. By mechanically scratching the cell substrate with a pin array, we are able to create characteristically sized wounds in all wells of a 384 well plate. Imaging of the healing wounds with an automated fluorescence microscope allows us to distinguish perturbations that affect cell migration, morphology, and division. Readout requires ~1 hr per plate but is high in information content i.e. high content. We compare readouts using different imaging technologies, automated microscopy, scanners and a fluorescence macroscope, and evaluate the trade-off between information content and data acquisition rate.
CONCLUSIONS: The adaptation of a wound healing assay to a 384 well format facilitates the study of aspects of cell migration, tissue reorganization, cell division, and other processes that underlie wound healing. This assay allows greater than 10,000 perturbations to be screened per day with a quantitative, high-content readout, and can also be used to characterize small numbers of perturbations in detail.
We present a method for high-throughput cytological profiling by microscopy. Our system provides quantitative multidimensional measures of individual cell states over wide ranges of perturbations. We profile dose-dependent phenotypic effects of drugs in human cell culture with a titration-invariant similarity score (TISS). This method successfully categorized blinded drugs and suggested targets for drugs of uncertain mechanism. Multivariate single-cell analysis is a starting point for identifying relationships among drug effects at a systems level and a step toward phenotypic profiling at the single-cell level. Our methods will be useful for discovering the mechanism and predicting the toxicity of new drugs.
In recent years the kinesin superfamily has become so large that several different naming schemes have emerged, leading to confusion and miscommunication. Here, we set forth a standardized kinesin nomenclature based on 14 family designations. The scheme unifies all previous phylogenies and nomenclature proposals, while allowing individual sequence names to remain the same, and for expansion to occur as new sequences are discovered.
FtsZ, the ancestral homolog of eukaryotic tubulins, is a GTPase that assembles into a cytokinetic ring structure essential for cell division in prokaryotic cells. Similar to tubulin, purified FtsZ polymerizes into dynamic protofilaments in the presence of GTP; polymer assembly is accompanied by GTP hydrolysis. We used a high-throughput protein-based chemical screen to identify small molecules that target assembly-dependent GTPase activity of FtsZ. Here, we report the identification of five structurally diverse compounds, named Zantrins, which inhibit FtsZ GTPase either by destabilizing the FtsZ protofilaments or by inducing filament hyperstability through increased lateral association. These two classes of FtsZ inhibitors are reminiscent of the antitubulin drugs colchicine and Taxol, respectively. We also show that Zantrins perturb FtsZ ring assembly in Escherichia coli cells and cause lethality to a variety of bacteria in broth cultures, indicating that FtsZ antagonists may serve as chemical leads for the development of new broad-spectrum antibacterial agents. Our results illustrate the utility of small-molecule chemical probes to study FtsZ polymerization dynamics and the feasibility of FtsZ as a novel therapeutic target.
Drosophila MEI-S332 and fungal Sgo1 genes are essential for sister centromere cohesion in meiosis I. We demonstrate that the related vertebrate Sgo localizes to kinetochores and is required to prevent premature sister centromere separation in mitosis, thus providing an explanation for the differential cohesion observed between the arms and the centromeres of mitotic sister chromatids. Sgo is degraded by the anaphase-promoting complex, allowing the separation of sister centromeres in anaphase. Intriguingly, we show that Sgo interacts strongly with microtubules in vitro and that it regulates kinetochore microtubule stability in vivo, consistent with a direct microtubule interaction. Sgo is thus critical for mitotic progression and chromosome segregation and provides an unexpected link between sister centromere cohesion and microtubule interactions at kinetochores.
BACKGROUND: The regulated assembly of microtubules is essential for bipolar spindle formation. Depending on cell type, microtubules nucleate through two different pathways: centrosome-driven or chromatin-driven. The chromatin-driven pathway dominates in cells lacking centrosomes.
RESULTS: Human RHAMM (receptor for hyaluronic-acid-mediated motility) was originally implicated in hyaluronic-acid-induced motility but has since been shown to associate with centrosomes and play a role in astral spindle pole integrity in mitotic systems. We have identified the Xenopus ortholog of human RHAMM as a microtubule-associated protein that plays a role in focusing spindle poles and is essential for efficient microtubule nucleation during spindle assembly without centrosomes. XRHAMM associates both with gamma-TuRC, a complex required for microtubule nucleation and with TPX2, a protein required for microtubule nucleation and spindle pole organization.
CONCLUSIONS: XRHAMM facilitates Ran-dependent, chromatin-driven nucleation in a process that may require coordinate activation of TPX2 and gamma-TuRC.
Although mitotic and meiotic spindles maintain a steady-state length during metaphase, their antiparallel microtubules slide toward spindle poles at a constant rate. This "poleward flux" of microtubules occurs in many organisms and may provide part of the force for chromosome segregation. We use quantitative image analysis to examine the role of the kinesin Eg5 in poleward flux in metaphase Xenopus laevis egg extract spindles. Pharmacological inhibition of Eg5 results in a dose-responsive slowing of flux, and biochemical depletion of Eg5 significantly decreases the flux rate. Our results suggest that ensembles of nonprocessive Eg5 motors drive flux in metaphase Xenopus extract spindles.
We examined the effect of blebbistatin on the kinetic properties of nonmuscle myosin IIB subfragment 1 (NMIIB S1). Blebbistatin is a small molecule that affects cell blebbing during the process of cell division, which has been shown to decrease the myosin ATPase activity of a number of myosins [Straight et al. (2003) Science 299, 1743-1747]. The steady-state actin-activated ATPase activity of NMIIB S1 was decreased approximately 90% at 40 microM actin in the presence of blebbistatin. Stopped-flow techniques were employed to elucidate the effect of blebbistatin on the various steps of the NMIIB S1 cross-bridge cycle. Blebbistatin did not affect ATP binding and hydrolysis. Binding to actin in the presence of ADP (0.57 +/-0.08 microM(-1) s(-1)) was reduced slightly in the presence of blebbistatin (0.38 +/- 0.03 microM(-1) s(-1)), while mantADP dissociation from acto-NMIIB S1 was reduced (approximately 30%). P(i) release was blocked in the presence of blebbistatin. Accordingly, the apparent affinity of NMIIB S1 for actin in the presence of ATP was greatly reduced. Based on the above data, we surmise that blebbistatin inhibits the ATPase activity of NMIIB S1 primarily by blocking entry into the strong binding state; secondarily, it reduces the rate of ADP release. These effects are likely mediated by binding of blebbistatin within the myosin cleft that progressively closes in forming the acto-myosin rigor state.
Cytokinesis involves temporally and spatially coordinated action of the cell cycle and cytoskeletal and membrane systems to achieve separation of daughter cells. To dissect cytokinesis mechanisms it would be useful to have a complete catalog of the proteins involved, and small molecule tools for specifically inhibiting them with tight temporal control. Finding active small molecules by cell-based screening entails the difficult step of identifying their targets. We performed parallel chemical genetic and genome-wide RNA interference screens in Drosophila cells, identifying 50 small molecule inhibitors of cytokinesis and 214 genes important for cytokinesis, including a new protein in the Aurora B pathway (Borr). By comparing small molecule and RNAi phenotypes, we identified a small molecule that inhibits the Aurora B kinase pathway. Our protein list provides a starting point for systematic dissection of cytokinesis, a direction that will be greatly facilitated by also having diverse small molecule inhibitors, which we have identified. Dissection of the Aurora B pathway, where we found a new gene and a specific small molecule inhibitor, should benefit particularly. Our study shows that parallel RNA interference and small molecule screening is a generally useful approach to identifying active small molecules and their target pathways.
The mitotic spindle is typically thought of as an array of microtubules, microtubule-associated proteins and motors that self-organizes to align and segregate chromosomes. The major spindle components consist of proteins and DNA, the primary structural elements of the spindle. Other macromolecules including RNA and lipids also associate with spindles, but their spindle function, if any, is unknown. Poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) is a large, branched, negatively charged polymeric macromolecule whose polymerization onto acceptor proteins is catalysed by a family of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs). Several PARPs localize to the spindle in vertebrate cells, suggesting that PARPs and/or PAR have a role in spindle function. Here we show that PAR is enriched in the spindle and is required for spindle function--PAR hydrolysis or perturbation leads to rapid disruption of spindle structure, and hydrolysis during spindle assembly blocks the formation of bipolar spindles. PAR exhibits localization dynamics that differ from known spindle proteins and are consistent with a low rate of turnover in the spindle. Thus, PAR is a non-proteinaceous, non-chromosomal component of the spindle required for bipolar spindle assembly and function.
Proper positioning of the cell division plane during mitosis is essential for determining the size and position of the two daughter cells--a critical step during development and cell differentiation. A bipolar microtubule array has been proposed to be a minimum requirement for furrow positioning in mammalian cells, with furrows forming at the site of microtubule plus-end overlap between the spindle poles. Observations in other species have suggested, however, that this may not be true. Here we show, by inducing mammalian tissue cells with monopolar spindles to enter anaphase, that furrow formation in cultured mammalian cells does not require a bipolar spindle. Unexpectedly, cytokinesis occurs at high frequency in monopolar cells. Division always occurs at a cortical position distal to the chromosomes. Analysis of microtubules during cytokinesis in cells with monopolar and bipolar spindles shows that a subpopulation of stable microtubules extends past chromosomes and binds to the cell cortex at the site of furrow formation. Our data are consistent with a model in which chromosomes supply microtubules with factors that promote microtubule stability and furrowing.