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Curr Biol. 2011 Aug 9;21(15):1314-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.052. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

Divergent strategies for controlling the nuclear membrane satisfy geometric constraints during nuclear division.

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Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, National University of Singapore, 1 Research Link, Singapore 117604.


Eukaryotes segregate chromosomes in "open" or "closed" mitosis, depending on whether their nuclear envelopes (NEs) break down or remain intact. Here we show that the control of the nuclear surface area may determine the choice between these two modes. The dividing nucleus does not expand its surface in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces japonicus, confining the mitotic spindle and causing it to buckle. The NE ruptures in anaphase, releasing the compressive stress and allowing chromosome segregation. Blocking the NE expansion in the related species Schizosaccharomyces pombe that undergoes closed mitosis induces spindle buckling and collapse in the absence of an intrinsic NE rupture mechanism. We propose that scaling considerations could have shaped the evolution of eukaryotic mitosis by necessitating either nuclear surface expansion or the NE breakdown.

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