Actin dynamics in the contractile ring during cytokinesis in fission yeast

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Cytokinesis in many eukaryotes requires a contractile ring of actin and myosin that cleaves the cell in two. Little is known about how actin filaments and other components assemble into this ring structure and generate force1,2. Here we show that the contractile ring in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is an active site of actin assembly. This actin polymerization activity requires Arp3, the formin Cdc12, profilin and WASP, but not myosin II or IQGAP proteins. Both newly polymerized actin filaments and pre-existing actin cables can contribute to the initial assembly of the ring. Once formed, the ring remains a dynamic structure in which actin and other ring components continuously assemble and disassemble from the ring every minute. The rate of actin polymerization can influence the rate of cleavage. Thus, actin polymerization driven by the Arp2/3 complex and formins is a central process in cytokinesis. Our studies show that cytokinesis is a more dynamic process than previously thought and provide a perspective on the mechanism of cell division.

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Figure 1: Arc15, a component of the Arp2/3 complex, localizes to the contractile ring.
Figure 2: The contractile ring is a site of actin polymerization and/or nucleation in vitro.
Figure 3: Actin and other components of the contractile ring are dynamic in vivo.
Figure 4: Actin polymerization influences the rate of contractile ring closure.


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We thank K. Gould for the Arc15–GFP construct, Arp3 reagents and communicating results before publication; D. Burgess, B. Feierbach, D. McCollum, A. Paoletti, R. Kessin and B. Goode for comments on the manuscript; T. Swayne and the Optical Imaging Facility of the Herbert Irving Cancer Center for use of their confocal microscope; T. Pollard for the wsp1Δ strain; and M. Balasubramanian for the GFP–Cdc4 and GFP–Cdc8 plasmids. This work was supported by research grants to F.C. from the NIH and the American Cancer Society.

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Correspondence to Fred Chang.

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Pelham, R., Chang, F. Actin dynamics in the contractile ring during cytokinesis in fission yeast. Nature 419, 82–86 (2002) doi:10.1038/nature00999

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