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Concept: Cytokinesis


Addition of membrane in the form of vesicles is essential for the cytokinesis of animal and plant cells. In the animal cell cytokinesis, membrane fusion acts along with the contraction of an actomyosin ring to separate the cytoplasmic contents. In this study, the possible driving mechanisms for the membrane addition to the plasma membrane of the dividing animal cell and their consequences are presented. Taking cues from earlier studies, we propose that the membrane addition to the plasma membrane in the form of vesicles can be governed by the lateral tension present in the plasma membrane or, the concentrations of actin and myosin proteins at the cleavage furrow or, both simultaneously. The study attempts to elucidate the relationship between membrane addition and the force exerted by the contractile ring. The predictions from our study agree qualitatively with the experimental studies in which the vesicle fusion or the acto-myosin assembly were blocked during cytokinesis. However, the precise role of the two above mentioned mechanisms may depend on various parameters including but not limited to the cell type, organism and microenvironment around the dividing cell.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Cell, Eukaryote, Organelle, Actin, Cell wall, Cytokinesis


The ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) machinery is responsible for scission of the cytokinetic bridge that connects daughter cells at the end of mitosis. Specific endosomes are now found to mediate local bridge constriction and actin clearance in human cells, which contribute to the recruitment of ESCRT components at the abscission site.

Concepts: Human, Eukaryote, Golgi apparatus, Cell division, Chromosome, Road, Road transport, Cytokinesis


Centralspindlin, a complex composed of the subunits ZEN-4 and CYK-4, recruits and regulates proteins that modulate the actin cytoskeleton to promote cleavage furrow formation and progression during cytokinesis. The ZEN-4 subunit is a kinesin that is proposed to function primarily by bundling microtubules and promoting transport of the complex to the midzone. ZEN-4 and CYK-4 are mutually dependent for localization to the midzone during cytokinesis. Once at the midzone, the CYK-4 subunit functions to recruit actin regulators and the scaffold anillin as well as to regulate RhoA and Rac via its intrinsic GAP domain, ultimately promoting actomyosin contractile ring assembly. We have revealed a distinct mechanism for centralspindlin localization and function at a stable, postmitotic intercellular bridge in the Caenorhabditis elegans gonad. Loss of zen-4 or cyk-4 function disrupts germ cell progression postmitotically. In contrast to the localization and recruitment relationships during mitosis, centralspindlin is maintained at the intercellular bridge by anillin, and CYK-4 is localized independently of ZEN-4 but not vice versa. We present evidence that centralspindlin function at the rachis bridge involves ZEN-4 action on the microtubules as opposed to the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton mediated by CYK-4 during cytokinesis.

Concepts: Protein, Eukaryote, Cell cycle, Actin, Cytoskeleton, Mitosis, Cytokinesis, Cleavage furrow


Cell movement and cytokinesis are facilitated by contractile forces generated by the molecular motor, non-muscle myosin II (NMII). NMII molecules form a filament (NMII-F) through interactions of their C-terminal rod domains, positioning groups of N-terminal motor domains on opposite sides. The NMII motors then bind and pull actin filaments toward the NMII-F, thus driving contraction. Inside of crawling cells, NMIIA-Fs form large macromolecular ensembles (i.e., NMIIA-F stacks) but how this occurs is unknown. Here we show NMIIA-F stacks are formed through two non-mutually exclusive mechanisms: expansion and concatenation. During expansion, NMIIA molecules within the NMIIA-F spread out concurrent with addition of new NMIIA molecules. Concatenation occurs when multiple NMIIA-F/NMIIA-F stacks move together and align. We found NMIIA-F stack formation was regulated by both motor-activity and the availability of surrounding actin filaments. Furthermore, our data showed expansion and concatenation also formed the contractile ring in dividing cells. Thus, interphase and mitotic cells share similar mechanisms for creating large contractile units, and these are likely to underlie how other myosin II-based contractile systems are assembled.

Concepts: Protein, Eukaryote, Cell cycle, Actin, Mitosis, Binary fission, Interphase, Cytokinesis


The individual molecular pathways downstream of Cdc42, Rac, and Rho GTPases are well documented, but we know surprisingly little about how these pathways are coordinated when cells move in a complex environment in vivo. In the developing embryo, melanoblasts originating from the neural crest must traverse the dermis to reach the epidermis of the skin and hair follicles. We previously established that Rac1 signals via Scar/WAVE and Arp2/3 to effect pseudopod extension and migration of melanoblasts in skin. Here we show that RhoA is redundant in the melanocyte lineage but that Cdc42 coordinates multiple motility systems independent of Rac1. Similar to Rac1 knockouts, Cdc42 null mice displayed a severe loss of pigmentation, and melanoblasts showed cell-cycle progression, migration, and cytokinesis defects. However, unlike Rac1 knockouts, Cdc42 null melanoblasts were elongated and displayed large, bulky pseudopods with dynamic actin bursts. Despite assuming an elongated shape usually associated with fast mesenchymal motility, Cdc42 knockout melanoblasts migrated slowly and inefficiently in the epidermis, with nearly static pseudopods. Although much of the basic actin machinery was intact, Cdc42 null cells lacked the ability to polarize their Golgi and coordinate motility systems for efficient movement. Loss of Cdc42 de-coupled three main systems: actin assembly via the formin FMNL2 and Arp2/3, active myosin-II localization, and integrin-based adhesion dynamics.

Concepts: Eukaryote, Actin, Skin, Dermis, Epidermis, Rho family of GTPases, Cytokinesis, Melanocyte


Contents Summary 1 I. Introduction 1 II. Models of plant cell division 1 III. Establishing the division plane 2 IV. Maintaining the division plane during mitosis and cytokinesis 5 Acknowledgements 6 References 6 SUMMARY: Plants, a significant source of planet-wide biomass, have an unique type of cell division in which a new cell wall is constructed de novo inside the cell and guided towards the cell edge to complete division. The elegant control over positioning this new cell wall is essential for proper patterning and development. Plant cells, lacking migration, tightly coordinate division orientation and directed expansion to generate organized shapes. Several emerging lines of evidence suggest that the proteins required for division-plane establishment are distinct from those required for division-plane maintenance. We discuss recent shape-based computational models and mutant analyses that raise questions about, and identify unexpected connections between, the roles of well-known proteins and structures during division-plane orientation.

Concepts: Cell, Plastid, Eukaryote, Cell cycle, Cell wall, Binary fission, Cytokinesis, Plant cell


The contractile ring is a complex molecular apparatus important for dividing many eukaryotic cells. Despite knowledge of its composition, the molecular architecture of the ring is not known. Here we applied super-resolution microscopy and FRET to determine the nanoscale spatial organization of Schizosaccharomyces pombe contractile ring components relative to the plasma membrane. As in other membrane-tethered actin structures, contractile ring proteins are stratified relative to the membrane. The lowest layer (0-80 nm) contains membrane-binding scaffolds, formin, and the myosin-II tail. An intermediate zone (80-160 nm) consists of a network of cytokinesis accessory proteins and signaling components that influence cell division. Most interior from the membrane (160-400 nm) is F-actin, myosin motor domains, and an F-actin crosslinker. Circumferentially within the ring, multiple proximal membrane proteins form different sized clusters, while components farther from the membrane are uniformly distributed. This comprehensive organizational map provides a framework for understanding contractile ring function.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Eukaryote, Actin, Cytoskeleton, Mitosis, Motor protein, Cytokinesis


Primary microcephaly is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is caused by a reduction in brain size as a result of defects in the proliferation of neural progenitor cells during development. Mutations in genes encoding proteins that localize to the mitotic spindle and centrosomes have been implicated in the pathogenicity of primary microcephaly. In contrast, the contractile ring and midbody required for cytokinesis, the final stage of mitosis, have not previously been implicated by human genetics in the molecular mechanisms of this phenotype. Citron kinase (CIT) is a multi-domain protein that localizes to the cleavage furrow and midbody of mitotic cells, where it is required for the completion of cytokinesis. Rodent models of Cit deficiency highlighted the role of this gene in neurogenesis and microcephaly over a decade ago. Here, we identify recessively inherited pathogenic variants in CIT as the genetic basis of severe microcephaly and neonatal death. We present postmortem data showing that CIT is critical to building a normally sized human brain. Consistent with cytokinesis defects attributed to CIT, multinucleated neurons were observed throughout the cerebral cortex and cerebellum of an affected proband, expanding our understanding of mechanisms attributed to primary microcephaly.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Gene, Genetics, Brain, Cerebral cortex, Mitosis, Cytokinesis


Regulation of order, such as orientation and conformation, drives the function of most molecular assemblies in living cells but remains difficult to measure accurately through space and time. We built an instantaneous fluorescence polarization microscope, which simultaneously images position and orientation of fluorophores in living cells with single-molecule sensitivity and a time resolution of 100 ms. We developed image acquisition and analysis methods to track single particles that interact with higher-order assemblies of molecules. We tracked the fluctuations in position and orientation of molecules from the level of an ensemble of fluorophores down to single fluorophores. We tested our system in vitro using fluorescently labeled DNA and F-actin, in which the ensemble orientation of polarized fluorescence is known. We then tracked the orientation of sparsely labeled F-actin network at the leading edge of migrating human keratinocytes, revealing the anisotropic distribution of actin filaments relative to the local retrograde flow of the F-actin network. Additionally, we analyzed the position and orientation of septin-GFP molecules incorporated in septin bundles in growing hyphae of a filamentous fungus. Our data indicate that septin-GFP molecules undergo positional fluctuations within ∼350 nm of the binding site and angular fluctuations within ∼30° of the central orientation of the bundle. By reporting position and orientation of molecules while they form dynamic higher-order structures, our approach can provide insights into how micrometer-scale ordered assemblies emerge from nanoscale molecules in living cells.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Cell, Adenosine triphosphate, Eukaryote, Cell biology, Ion, Cytokinesis


The anti-tumor effects of chemotherapy and radiation are thought to be mediated by triggering G1/S or G2/M cell cycle checkpoints, while spindle poisons, such as paclitaxel, block metaphase exit by initiating the spindle assembly checkpoint. In contrast, we have found that 150 kilohertz (kHz) alternating electric fields, also known as Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields), perturbed cells at the transition from metaphase to anaphase. Cells exposed to the TTFields during mitosis showed normal progression to this point, but exhibited uncontrolled membrane blebbing that coincided with metaphase exit. The ability of such alternating electric fields to affect cellular physiology is likely to be dependent on their interactions with proteins possessing high dipole moments. The mitotic Septin complex consisting of Septin 2, 6 and 7, possesses a high calculated dipole moment of 2711 Debyes (D) and plays a central role in positioning the cytokinetic cleavage furrow, and governing its contraction during ingression. We showed that during anaphase, TTFields inhibited Septin localization to the anaphase spindle midline and cytokinetic furrow, as well as its association with microtubules during cell attachment and spreading on fibronectin. After aberrant metaphase exit as a consequence of TTFields exposure, cells exhibited aberrant nuclear architecture and signs of cellular stress including an overall decrease in cellular proliferation, followed by apoptosis that was strongly influenced by the p53 mutational status. Thus, TTFields are able to diminish cell proliferation by specifically perturbing key proteins involved in cell division, leading to mitotic catastrophe and subsequent cell death.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cancer, Cell division, Chromosome, Apoptosis, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Cytokinesis