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Mol Biol Cell. 2011 Sep;22(17):3165-75. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E11-05-0399. Epub 2011 Jul 7.

Anillin promotes astral microtubule-directed cortical myosin polarization.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Assembly of a cytokinetic contractile ring is a form of cell polarization in which the equatorial cell cortex becomes differentiated from the polar regions. Microtubules direct cytokinetic polarization via the central spindle and astral microtubules. The mechanism of central spindle-directed furrow formation is reasonably well understood, but the aster-directed pathway is not. In aster-directed furrowing, cytoskeletal factors accumulate to high levels at sites distal to the asters and at reduced levels at cortical sites near the asters. In this paper, we demonstrate that the cytoskeletal organizing protein anillin (ANI-1) promotes the formation of an aster-directed furrow in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Microtubule-directed nonmuscle myosin II polarization is aberrant in embryos depleted of ANI-1. In contrast, microtubule-directed polarized ANI-1 localization is largely unaffected by myosin II depletion. Consistent with a role in the induction of cortical asymmetry, ANI-1 also contributes to the polarization of arrested oocytes. Anillin has an evolutionarily conserved capacity to associate with microtubules, possibly providing an inhibitory mechanism to promote polarization of the cell cortex.

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