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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2009 Jul;1(1):a001347. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a001347.

Shaping fission yeast with microtubules.

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Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Microbiology, 701 W 168th Street, New York 10032, USA.


For cell morphogenesis, the cell must establish distinct spatial domains at specified locations at the cell surface. Here, we review the molecular mechanisms of cell polarity in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. These are simple rod-shaped cells that form cortical domains at cell tips for cell growth and at the cell middle for cytokinesis. In both cases, microtubule-based systems help to shape the cell by breaking symmetry, providing endogenous spatial cues to position these sites. The plus ends of dynamic microtubules deliver polarity factors to the cell tips, leading to local activation of the GTPase cdc42p and the actin assembly machinery. Microtubule bundles contribute to positioning the division plane through the nucleus and the cytokinesis factor mid1p. Recent advances illustrate how the spatial and temporal regulation of cell polarization integrates many elements, including historical landmarks, positive and negative controls, and competition between pathways.

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