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Development. 2011 Oct;138(20):4411-22. doi: 10.1242/dev.070979. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Dynamic localization of C. elegans TPR-GoLoco proteins mediates mitotic spindle orientation by extrinsic signaling.

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Biology Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Cell divisions are sometimes oriented by extrinsic signals, by mechanisms that are poorly understood. Proteins containing TPR and GoLoco-domains (C. elegans GPR-1/2, Drosophila Pins, vertebrate LGN and AGS3) are candidates for mediating mitotic spindle orientation by extrinsic signals, but the mechanisms by which TPR-GoLoco proteins may localize in response to extrinsic cues are not well defined. The C. elegans TPR-GoLoco protein pair GPR-1/2 is enriched at a site of contact between two cells - the endomesodermal precursor EMS and the germline precursor P(2) - and both cells align their divisions toward this shared cell-cell contact. To determine whether GPR-1/2 is enriched at this site within both cells, we generated mosaic embryos with GPR-1/2 bearing a different fluorescent tag in different cells. We were surprised to find that GPR-1/2 distribution is symmetric in EMS, where GPR-1/2 had been proposed to function as an asymmetric cue for spindle orientation. Instead, GPR-1/2 is asymmetrically distributed only in P(2). We demonstrate a role for normal GPR-1/2 localization in P(2) division orientation. We show that MES-1/Src signaling plays an instructive role in P(2) for asymmetric GPR-1/2 localization and normal spindle orientation. We ruled out a model in which signaling localizes GPR-1/2 by locally inhibiting LET-99, a GPR-1/2 antagonist. Instead, asymmetric GPR-1/2 distribution is established by destabilization at one cell contact, diffusion, and trapping at another cell contact. Once the mitotic spindle of P(2) is oriented normally, microtubule-dependent removal of GPR-1/2 prevented excess accumulation, in an apparent negative-feedback loop. These results highlight the role of dynamic TPR-GoLoco protein localization as a key mediator of mitotic spindle alignment in response to instructive, external cues.

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