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J Cell Biol. 2008 Nov 3;183(3):457-70. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200807128. Epub 2008 Oct 27.

Stable and dynamic microtubules coordinately shape the myosin activation zone during cytokinetic furrow formation.

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The Center for Cell Dynamics, University of Washington, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA.


The cytokinetic furrow arises from spatial and temporal regulation of cortical contractility. To test the role microtubules play in furrow specification, we studied myosin II activation in echinoderm zygotes by assessing serine19-phosphorylated regulatory light chain (pRLC) localization after precisely timed drug treatments. Cortical pRLC was globally depressed before cytokinesis, then elevated only at the equator. We implicated cell cycle biochemistry (not microtubules) in pRLC depression, and differential microtubule stability in localizing the subsequent myosin activation. With no microtubules, pRLC accumulation occurred globally instead of equatorially, and loss of just dynamic microtubules increased equatorial pRLC recruitment. Nocodazole treatment revealed a population of stable astral microtubules that formed during anaphase; among these, those aimed toward the equator grew longer, and their tips coincided with cortical pRLC accumulation. Shrinking the mitotic apparatus with colchicine revealed pRLC suppression near dynamic microtubule arrays. We conclude that opposite effects of stable versus dynamic microtubules focuses myosin activation to the cell equator during cytokinesis.

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