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Curr Biol. 1998 Apr 23;8(9):541-4.

Dynein and dynactin are localized to astral microtubules and at cortical sites in mitotic epithelial cells.

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Institut Jacques Monod UMR 7592 CNRS Université Paris VII and VI 2 Place Jussieu, Tour 43, 75251, Paris, Cedex 05, France.


The mitotic spindle is often positioned in a characteristic location during development, for example to enable the proper segregation of developmental determinants [1,2]. When epithelial cells divide, the mitotic spindle is often positioned parallel to the plane of the epithelium, so that both daughter cells contribute to the epithelium [3]. The mechanisms by which mitotic spindles are positioned have not been characterized in great detail, but evidence is accumulating that in some systems the dynein-dynactin microtubule motor complex plays a role [4-6]. Dynein has yet not been localized to cortical sites where it could bind to microtubules and exert a force that might orient the mitotic spindle, however [7,8]. Here, we report that in mitotic polarized epithelial cells, the dynein-dynactin complex accumulates, from prometaphase onwards, along astral microtubules and at cortical spots, into which many of the astral microtubules dock. The spots are assembled at the lateral plasma membrane, in the region below the tight junctions. Their formation is inhibited by cytochalasin D, and under these conditions the spindles do not orient properly. This novel localization of the dynein-dynactin complex is consistent with a role for the complex in the positioning of the mitotic spindle. We also show that, during prophase, the motor complex colocalizes with the nuclear envelope, consistent with it having a role in separating the centrosomes that are associated with the nuclear envelope.

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