Egg activation refers to events required for transition of a gamete into an embryo, including establishment of the polyspermy block, completion of meiosis, entry into mitosis, selective recruitment and degradation of maternal mRNA, and pronuclear development. Here we show that zinc fluxes accompany human egg activation. We monitored calcium and zinc dynamics in individual human eggs using selective fluorophores following activation with calcium-ionomycin, ionomycin, or hPLCζ cRNA microinjection. These egg activation methods, as expected, induced rises in intracellular calcium levels and also triggered the coordinated release of zinc into the extracellular space in a prominent “zinc spark.” The ability of the gamete to mount a zinc spark response was meiotic-stage dependent. Moreover, chelation of intracellular zinc alone was sufficient to induce cell cycle resumption and transition of a meiotic cell into a mitotic one. Together, these results demonstrate critical functions for zinc dynamics and establish the zinc spark as an extracellular marker of early human development.
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.
The chromatin structure of DNA determines genome compaction and activity in the nucleus. On the basis of in vitro structures and electron microscopy (EM) studies, the hierarchical model is that 11-nanometer DNA-nucleosome polymers fold into 30- and subsequently into 120- and 300- to 700-nanometer fibers and mitotic chromosomes. To visualize chromatin in situ, we identified a fluorescent dye that stains DNA with an osmiophilic polymer and selectively enhances its contrast in EM. Using ChromEMT (ChromEM tomography), we reveal the ultrastructure and three-dimensional (3D) organization of individual chromatin polymers, megabase domains, and mitotic chromosomes. We show that chromatin is a disordered 5- to 24-nanometer-diameter curvilinear chain that is packed together at different 3D concentration distributions in interphase and mitosis. Chromatin chains have many different particle arrangements and bend at various lengths to achieve structural compaction and high packing densities.
The nuclear lamina represents a multifunctional platform involved in such diverse yet interconnected processes as spatial organization of the genome, maintenance of mechanical stability of the nucleus, regulation of transcription and replication. Most of lamina activities are exerted through tethering of lamina-associated chromatin domains (LADs) to the nuclear periphery. Yet, the lamina is a dynamic structure demonstrating considerable expansion during the cell cycle to accommodate increased number of LADs formed during DNA replication. We analyzed dynamics of nuclear growth during interphase and changes in lamina structure as a function of cell cycle progression. The nuclear lamina demonstrates steady growth from G1 till G2, while quantitative analysis of lamina meshwork by super-resolution microscopy revealed that microdomain organization of the lamina is maintained, with lamin A and lamin B microdomain periodicity and interdomain gap sizes unchanged. FRAP analysis, in contrast, demonstrated differences in lamin A and B1 exchange rates; the latter showing higher recovery rate in S-phase cells. In order to further analyze the mechanism of lamina growth in interphase, we generated a lamina-free nuclear envelope in living interphase cells by reversible hypotonic shock. The nuclear envelope in nuclear buds formed after such a treatment initially lacked lamins, and analysis of lamina formation revealed striking difference in lamin A and B1 assembly: lamin A reassembled within 30 min post-treatment, whereas lamin B1 did not incorporate into the newly formed lamina at all. We suggest that in somatic cells lamin B1 meshwork growth is coordinated with replication of LADs, and lamin A meshwork assembly seems to be chromatin-independent process.
Topologically associating domains (TADs) are fundamental structural and functional building blocks of human interphase chromosomes, yet the mechanisms of TAD formation remain unclear. Here, we propose that loop extrusion underlies TAD formation. In this process, cis-acting loop-extruding factors, likely cohesins, form progressively larger loops but stall at TAD boundaries due to interactions with boundary proteins, including CTCF. Using polymer simulations, we show that this model produces TADs and finer-scale features of Hi-C data. Each TAD emerges from multiple loops dynamically formed through extrusion, contrary to typical illustrations of single static loops. Loop extrusion both explains diverse experimental observations-including the preferential orientation of CTCF motifs, enrichments of architectural proteins at TAD boundaries, and boundary deletion experiments-and makes specific predictions for the depletion of CTCF versus cohesin. Finally, loop extrusion has potentially far-ranging consequences for processes such as enhancer-promoter interactions, orientation-specific chromosomal looping, and compaction of mitotic chromosomes.
High-throughput assays of three-dimensional interactions of chromosomes have shed considerable light on the structure of animal chromatin. Despite this progress, the precise physical nature of observed structures and the forces that govern their establishment remain poorly understood. Here we present high resolution Hi-C data from early Drosophila embryos. We demonstrate that boundaries between topological domains of various sizes map to DNA elements that resemble classical insulator elements: short genomic regions sensitive to DNase digestion that are strongly bound by known insulator proteins and are frequently located between divergent promoters. Further, we show a striking correspondence between these elements and the locations of mapped polytene interband regions. We believe it is likely this relationship between insulators, topological boundaries, and polytene interbands extends across the genome, and we therefore propose a model in which decompaction of boundary-insulator-interband regions drives the organization of interphase chromosomes by creating stable physical separation between adjacent domains.
The cytoplasmic mutant of nucleophosmin (NPMc) is found approximately in one-third of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cases and is highly associated with normal karyotype. Whereas previous studies have focused on wtNPM in centrosome duplication, we further elucidate the role of NPM in the cell cycle by utilizing the increased cytoplasmic load of NPMc. Overexpression of NPMc causes increased phosphorylation of NPM on T199 and, to a lesser degree, S4. T199 phosphorylation is dependent on cdk2 but activators of cdk2 were not elevated. Upon inhibition of cdk2, NPMc-overexpressing cells demonstrate a greater G2/M phase arrest than wtNPM or GFP counterparts. However, the number of cells with 2 centrosomes did not increase concordantly. This suggests that the arrest was caused by a delay in centrosome duplication, most likely due to the inhibition of centrosome duplication caused by unphosphorylated NPMc. Overall, these results suggest that the phosphorylation of T199 is important in the mitotic progression of NPMc-expressing cells. This further supports the hypothesis that NPMc is associated with normal karyotypes in AML because the higher cytoplasmic load of NPM can better suppress centrosome overduplication which would otherwise result in unequal segregation of chromosomes during mitosis, leading to aneuploidy and other genomic instabilities.
Mitotic chromosomes fold as compact arrays of chromatin loops. To identify the pathway of mitotic chromosome formation, we combined imaging and Hi-C of synchronous DT40 cell cultures with polymer simulations. We show that in prophase, the interphase organization is rapidly lost in a condensin-dependent manner and arrays of consecutive 60 kb loops are formed. During prometaphase ~80 kb inner loops are nested within ~400 kb outer loops. The loop array acquires a helical arrangement with consecutive loops emanating from a central spiral-staircase condensin scaffold. The size of helical turns progressively increases during prometaphase to ~12 Mb. Acute depletion of condensin I or II shows that nested loops form by differential action of the two condensins while condensin II is required for helical winding.
The unusual cell cycles of Apicomplexa parasites are remarkably flexible with the ability to complete cytokinesis and karyokinesis coordinately or postpone cytokinesis for several rounds of chromosome replication, and are well recognized. Despite this surprising biology, the molecular machinery required to achieve this flexibility is largely unknown. In this study, we provide comprehensive experimental evidence that apicomplexan parasites utilize multiple Cdk-related kinases (Crks) to coordinate cell division. We determined that Toxoplasma gondii encodes seven atypical P-, H-, Y- and L- type cyclins and ten Crks to regulate cellular processes. We generated and analyzed conditional tet-OFF mutants for seven TgCrks and four TgCyclins that are expressed in the tachyzoite stage. These experiments demonstrated that TgCrk1, TgCrk2, TgCrk4 and TgCrk6, were required or essential for tachyzoite growth revealing a remarkable number of Crk factors that are necessary for parasite replication. G1 phase arrest resulted from the loss of cytoplasmic TgCrk2 that interacted with a P-type cyclin demonstrating that an atypical mechanism controls half the T. gondii cell cycle. We showed that T. gondii employs at least three TgCrks to complete mitosis. Novel kinases, TgCrk6 and TgCrk4 were required for spindle function and centrosome duplication, respectively, while TgCrk1 and its partner TgCycL were essential for daughter bud assembly. Intriguingly, mitotic kinases TgCrk4 and TgCrk6 did not interact with any cyclin tested and were instead dynamically expressed during mitosis indicating they may not require a cyclin timing mechanism. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that apicomplexan parasites utilize distinctive and complex mechanisms to coordinate their novel replicative cycles.
S phase and mitotic onset are brought about by the action of multiple different cyclin-CDK complexes. However, it has been suggested that changes in the total level of CDK kinase activity, rather than substrate specificity, drive the temporal ordering of S phase and mitosis. Here, we present a phosphoproteomics-based systems analysis of CDK substrates in fission yeast and demonstrate that the phosphorylation of different CDK substrates can be temporally ordered during the cell cycle by a single cyclin-CDK. This is achieved by rising CDK activity and the differential sensitivity of substrates to CDK activity over a wide dynamic range. This is combined with rapid phosphorylation turnover to generate clearly resolved substrate-specific activity thresholds, which in turn ensures the appropriate ordering of downstream cell-cycle events. Comparative analysis with wild-type cells expressing multiple cyclin-CDK complexes reveals how cyclin-substrate specificity works alongside activity thresholds to fine-tune the patterns of substrate phosphorylation.