Microtubule plus ends dynamically attach to kinetochores on mitotic chromosomes. We directly imaged this dynamic interface using high resolution fluorescent speckle microscopy and direct labeling of kinetochores in Xenopus extract spindles. During metaphase, kinetochores were stationary and under tension while plus end polymerization and poleward microtubule flux (flux) occurred at velocities varying from 1.5-2.5 micro m/min. Because kinetochore microtubules polymerize at metaphase kinetochores, the primary source of kinetochore tension must be the spindle forces that produce flux and not a kinetochore-based mechanism. We infer that the kinetochore resists translocation of kinetochore microtubules through their attachment sites, and that the polymerization state of the kinetochore acts a "slip-clutch" mechanism that prevents detachment at high tension. At anaphase onset, kinetochores switched to depolymerization of microtubule plus ends, resulting in chromosome-to-pole rates transiently greater than flux. Kinetochores switched from persistent depolymerization to persistent polymerization and back again during anaphase, bistability exhibited by kinetochores in vertebrate tissue cells. These results provide the most complete description of spindle microtubule poleward flux to date, with important implications for the microtubule-kinetochore interface and for how flux regulates kinetochore function.
Completion of cell division during cytokinesis requires temporally and spatially regulated communication from the microtubule cytoskeleton to the actin cytoskeleton and the cell membrane. We identified a specific inhibitor of nonmuscle myosin II, blebbistatin, that inhibited contraction of the cleavage furrow without disrupting mitosis or contractile ring assembly. Using blebbistatin and other drugs, we showed that exit from the cytokinetic phase of the cell cycle depends on ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. Continuous signals from microtubules are required to maintain the position of the cleavage furrow, and these signals control the localization of myosin II independently of other furrow components.
The intracellular movement of the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes has helped identify key molecular constituents of actin-based motility (recent reviews ). However, biophysical as well as biochemical data are required to understand how these molecules generate the forces that extrude eukaryotic membranes. For molecular motors and for muscle, force-velocity curves have provided key biophysical data to distinguish between mechanistic theories. Here we manipulate and measure the viscoelastic properties of tissue extracts to provide the first force-velocity curve for Listeria monocytogenes. We find that the force-velocity relationship is highly curved, almost biphasic, suggesting a high cooperativity between biochemical catalysis and force generation. Using high-resolution motion tracking in low-noise extracts, we find long trajectories composed exclusively of molecular-sized steps. Robust statistics from these trajectories show a correlation between the duration of steps and macroscopic Listeria speed, but not between average step size and speed. Collectively, our data indicate how the molecular properties of the Listeria polymerization engine regulate speed, and that regulation occurs during molecular-scale pauses.
Mitosis requires precise control of microtubule dynamics. The KinI kinesin MCAK, a microtubule depolymerase, is critical for this regulation. In a screen to discover previously uncharacterized microtubule-associated proteins, we identified ICIS, a protein that stimulates MCAK activity in vitro. Consistent with this biochemical property, blocking ICIS function in Xenopus extracts with antibodies caused excessive microtubule growth and inhibited spindle formation. Prior to anaphase, ICIS localized in an MCAK-dependent manner to inner centromeres, the chromosomal region located in between sister kinetochores. From Xenopus extracts, ICIS coimmunoprecipitated MCAK and the inner centromere proteins INCENP and Aurora B, which are thought to promote chromosome biorientation. By immunoelectron microscopy, we found that ICIS is present on the surface of inner centromeres, placing it in an ideal location to depolymerize microtubules associated laterally with inner centromeres. At inner centromeres, MCAK-ICIS may destabilize these microtubules and provide a mechanism that prevents kinetochore-microtubule attachment errors.
We have developed high throughput fluorescence cell imaging methods to screen chemical libraries for compounds with effects on diverse aspects of cell physiology. We describe screens for compounds that arrest cells in mitosis, that block cell migration, and that block the secretory pathway. Each of these screens yielded specific inhibitors for research use, and the mitosis screen identified Eg5 as a potential target protein for cancer chemotherapy. Cell imaging provides a large amount of information from primary screening data that can be used to distinguish compounds with different effects on cells, and together with automated analysis, to quantitate compound effects.
BACKGROUND: 2,3-butanedione monoxime (BDM) has been widely used as a non-muscle myosin inhibitor to investigate the role of non-muscle myosinII in the process of actin retrograde flow and other actin cytoskeletal processes. Recent reports show that BDM does not inhibit any non-muscle myosins so far tested, including nm-myosinII, prompting the question, how were these process affected in BDM studies?
RESULTS: We have found that treatment of mammalian cells with BDM for only 1 min blocks actin incorporation at the leading edge in a permeabilized cell system. We show that inhibition of actin incorporation occurs through de-localization of leading edge proteins involved in actin polymerization--the Arp2/3 complex, WAVE, and VASP--that de-localize concomitantly with the leading edge actin network.
CONCLUSION: De-localization of actin leading edge components by BDM treatment is a newly described effect of this compound. It may explain many of the results previously ascribed to inhibition of non-muscle myosinII by BDM, particularly in studies of leading edge dynamics. Though this effect of BDM is intriguing, future studies probing actin dynamics at the leading edge should use more potent and specific inhibitors.
Inhibition of mitosis is a useful strategy for treating diseases involving excessive cell proliferation. Antimitotic drugs currently in clinical use perturb microtubule dynamics and thereby disrupt the function of the mitotic spindle. Protein regulators of microtubule dynamics and microtubule motors are also essential for mitotic spindle function. In this chapter, we evaluate the potential of these proteins as candidate targets for antimitotic drugs. We review in depth a number of proteins of particular interest, highlighting their known functions in mitosis and the effects of their inhibition on cell cycle progression.
The recent observation of GTP-promoted polymerization of a single septin polypeptide suggests that this protein has tubulin-like biochemical properties. This model cannot, however, explain the GTP-biochemistry of heteromeric septin complexes from cytosol.
EB1 targets to polymerizing microtubule ends, where it is favorably positioned to regulate microtubule polymerization and confer molecular recognition of the microtubule end. In this study, we focus on two aspects of the EB1-microtubule interaction: regulation of microtubule dynamics by EB1 and the mechanism of EB1 association with microtubules. Immunodepletion of EB1 from cytostatic factor-arrested M-phase Xenopus egg extracts dramatically reduced microtubule length; this was complemented by readdition of EB1. By time-lapse microscopy, EB1 increased the frequency of microtubule rescues and decreased catastrophes, resulting in increased polymerization and decreased depolymerization and pausing. Imaging of EB1 fluorescence revealed a novel structure: filamentous extensions on microtubule plus ends that appeared during microtubule pauses; loss of these extensions correlated with the abrupt onset of polymerization. Fluorescent EB1 localized to comets at the polymerizing plus ends of microtubules in cytostatic factor extracts and uniformly along the lengths of microtubules in interphase extracts. The temporal decay of EB1 fluorescence from polymerizing microtubule plus ends predicted a dissociation half-life of seconds. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching also revealed dissociation and rebinding of EB1 to the microtubule wall with a similar half-life. EB1 targeting to microtubules is thus described by a combination of higher affinity binding to polymerizing ends and lower affinity binding along the wall, with continuous dissociation. The latter is likely to be attenuated in interphase. The highly conserved effect of EB1 on microtubule dynamics suggests it belongs to a core set of regulatory factors conserved in higher organisms, and the complex pattern of EB1 targeting to microtubules could be exploited by the cell for coordinating microtubule behaviors.
Monastrol, a cell-permeable inhibitor of the kinesin Eg5, has been used to probe the dynamic organization of the mitotic spindle. The mechanism by which monastrol inhibits Eg5 function is unknown. We found that monastrol inhibits both the basal and the microtubule-stimulated ATPase activity of the Eg5 motor domain. Unlike many ATPase inhibitors, monastrol does not compete with ATP binding to Eg5. Monastrol appears to inhibit microtubule-stimulated ADP release from Eg5 but does not compete with microtubule binding, suggesting that monastrol binds a novel allosteric site in the motor domain. Finally, we established that (S)-monastrol, as compared to the (R)-enantiomer, is a more potent inhibitor of Eg5 activity in vitro and in vivo. Future structural studies should help in designing more potent Eg5 inhibitors for possible use as anticancer drugs and cell biological reagents.
There are 10 known mammalian septin genes, some of which produce multiple splice variants. The current nomenclature for the genes and gene products is very confusing, with several different names having been given to the same gene product and distinct names given to splice variants of the same gene. Moreover, some names are based on those of yeast or Drosophila septins that are not the closest homologues. Therefore, we suggest that the mammalian septin field adopt a common nomenclature system, based on that adopted by the Mouse Genomic Nomenclature Committee and accepted by the Human Genome Organization Gene Nomenclature Committee. The human and mouse septin genes will be named SEPT1-SEPT10 and Sept1-Sept10, respectively. Splice variants will be designated by an underscore followed by a lowercase "v" and a number, e.g., SEPT4_v1.
Xenopus kinesin catastrophe modulator-1 (XKCM1) is a Kin I kinesin family member that uses the energy of ATP hydrolysis to depolymerize microtubules. We demonstrated previously that XKCM1 is essential for mitotic-spindle assembly in vitro and acts by regulating microtubule dynamics as a pure protein, in extracts and in cells. A portion of the XKCM1 pool is specifically localized to centromeres during mitosis and may be important in chromosome movement. To selectively analyze the function of centromere-bound XKCM1, we generated glutathione-S-transferase (GST) fusion proteins containing the N-terminal globular domain (GST-NT), the centrally located catalytic domain (GST-CD), and the C-terminal alpha-helical tail (GST-CT) of XKCM1. The GST-NT protein targeted to centromeres during spindle assembly, suggesting that the N-terminal domain of XKCM1 is sufficient for centromere localization. Addition of GST-NT prior to or after spindle assembly replaced endogenous XKCM1, indicating that centromere targeting is a dynamic process. Loss of endogenous XKCM1 from centromeres caused a misalignment of chromosomes on the metaphase plate without affecting global spindle structure. These results suggest that centromere bound XKCM1 has an important role in chromosome positioning on the spindle.
During cell division, eukaryotic cells assemble dynamic microtubule-based spindles to segregate replicated chromosomes. Rapid spindle microtubule turnover, likely derived from dynamic instability, has been documented in yeasts, plants and vertebrates. Less studied is concerted spindle microtubule poleward translocation (flux) coupled to depolymerization at spindle poles. Microtubule flux has been observed only in vertebrates, although there is indirect evidence for it in insect spermatocytes and higher plants. Here we use fluorescent speckle microscopy (FSM) to demonstrate that mitotic spindles of syncytial Drosophila embryos exhibit poleward microtubule flux, indicating that flux is a widely conserved property of spindles. By simultaneously imaging chromosomes (or kinetochores) and flux, we provide evidence that flux is the dominant mechanism driving chromosome-to-pole movement (anaphase A) in these spindles. At 18 degrees C and 24 degrees C, separated sister chromatids moved poleward at average rates (3.6 and 6.6 microm/min, respectively) slightly greater than the mean rates of poleward flux (3.2 and 5.2 microm/min, respectively). However, at 24 degrees C the rate of kinetochore-to-pole movement varied from slower than to twice the mean rate of flux, suggesting that although flux is the dominant mechanism, kinetochore-associated microtubule depolymerization contributes to anaphase A.
Lamellipodia are thin, veil-like extensions at the edge of cells that contain a dynamic array of actin filaments. We describe an approach for analyzing spatial regulation of actin polymerization and depolymerization in vivo in which we tracked single molecules of actin fused to the green fluorescent protein. Polymerization and the lifetime of actin filaments in lamellipodia were measured with high spatial precision. Basal polymerization and depolymerization occurred throughout lamellipodia with largely constant kinetics, and polymerization was promoted within one micron of the lamellipodium tip. Most of the actin filaments in the lamellipodium were generated by polymerization away from the tip.
We screened a small-molecule library for inhibitors of rabbit muscle myosin II subfragment 1 (S1) actin-stimulated ATPase activity. The best inhibitor, N-benzyl-p-toluene sulphonamide (BTS), an aryl sulphonamide, inhibited the Ca2+-stimulated S1 ATPase, and reversibly blocked gliding motility. Although BTS does not compete for the nucleotide-binding site of myosin, it weakens myosin's interaction with F-actin. BTS reversibly suppressed force production in skinned skeletal muscle fibres from rabbit and frog skin at micromolar concentrations. BTS suppressed twitch production of intact frog fibres with minimum alteration of Ca2+ metabolism. BTS is remarkably specific, as it was much less effective in suppressing contraction in rat myocardial or rabbit slow-twitch muscle, and did not inhibit platelet myosin II. The isolation of BTS and the recently discovered Eg5 kinesin inhibitor, monastrol, suggests that motor proteins may be potential targets for therapeutic applications.
Microtubule polymerization dynamics at kinetochores is coupled to chromosome movements, but its regulation there is poorly understood. The plus end tracking protein EB1 is required both for regulating microtubule dynamics and for maintaining a euploid genome. To address the role of EB1 in aneuploidy, we visualized its targeting in mitotic PtK1 cells. Fluorescent EB1, which localized to polymerizing ends of astral and spindle microtubules, was used to track their polymerization. EB1 also associated with a subset of attached kinetochores in late prometaphase and metaphase, and rarely in anaphase. Localization occurred in a narrow crescent, concave toward the centromere, consistent with targeting to the microtubule plus end-kinetochore interface. EB1 did not localize to kinetochores lacking attached kinetochore microtubules in prophase or early prometaphase, or upon nocodazole treatment. By time lapse, EB1 specifically targeted to kinetochores moving antipoleward, coupled to microtubule plus end polymerization, and not during plus end depolymerization. It localized independently of spindle bipolarity, the spindle checkpoint, and dynein/dynactin function. EB1 is the first protein whose targeting reflects kinetochore directionality, unlike other plus end tracking proteins that show enhanced kinetochore binding in the absence of microtubules. Our results suggest EB1 may modulate kinetochore microtubule polymerization and/or attachment.
Septins are polymerizing GTPases required for cytokinesis and cortical organization. The principles by which they are targeted to, and assemble at, specific cell regions are unknown. We show that septins in mammalian cells switch between a linear organization along actin bundles and cytoplasmic rings, approximately 0.6 microm in diameter. A recombinant septin complex self-assembles into rings resembling those in cells. Linear organization along actin bundles was reconstituted by adding an adaptor protein, anillin. Perturbation of septin organization in cells by expression of a septin-interacting fragment of anillin or by septin depletion via siRNA causes loss of actin bundles. We conclude that septins alone self-assemble into rings, that adaptor proteins recruit septins to actin bundles, and that septins help organize these bundles.
Chemical inhibitors, whether natural products or synthetic, have had an enormous impact on the study of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton. Here we review the history of some of the most widely used cytoskeletal poisons and their influence on our understanding of cytoskeletal functions. We then highlight several new inhibitors and the targeted screens used to identify them and discuss why this approach has been successful.
Mitosis has been studied since the early 1880s, to the extent that we now have a detailed, but still incomplete, description of spindle dynamics and mechanics, a sense of potential mechanochemical and regulatory mechanisms at a molecular level, and a long list of mitotic proteins. Here we present a personal view of how far we have come, and where we need to go to fully understand the mechanisms involved in mitosis.