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Curr Biol. 2001 May 1;11(9):702-7.

Distinct roles of the equatorial and polar cortices in the cleavage of adherent cells.

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Department of Physiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 377 Plantation Street, Room 327, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


Over the past 100 years, many models have been proposed and tested for cytokinesis [1]. There is strong evidence that the equator represents a unique region that receives cleavage signals from the mitotic spindle [2, 3]. The nature of such a signal and the mechanism of cleavage, however, remain poorly understood. To probe the contribution of different cortical regions in the cleavage of cultured epithelial cells, we applied cytochalasin D (CD), a known inhibitor of cytokinesis [4], in a highly localized manner to different regions of dividing NRK cells. Surprisingly, equatorial application of CD not only allowed cytokinesis to complete but also appeared to facilitate the process. Conversely, local application of CD near the polar region caused inhibition of cytokinesis. Our results suggest a mechanism that involves global coordination of cortical activities, including controlled cortical disassembly along the equator and possibly global cortical contraction.

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