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.
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.