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Determining the position of the cell division plane


Proper positioning of the cell division plane during mitosis is essential for determining the size and position of the two daughter cells—a critical step during development and cell differentiation1. A bipolar microtubule array has been proposed to be a minimum requirement for furrow positioning in mammalian cells, with furrows forming at the site of microtubule plus-end overlap between the spindle poles2,4,4. Observations in other species have suggested, however, that this may not be true5,6. Here we show, by inducing mammalian tissue cells with monopolar spindles to enter anaphase7,8, that furrow formation in cultured mammalian cells does not require a bipolar spindle. Unexpectedly, cytokinesis occurs at high frequency in monopolar cells. Division always occurs at a cortical position distal to the chromosomes. Analysis of microtubules during cytokinesis in cells with monopolar and bipolar spindles shows that a subpopulation of stable microtubules extends past chromosomes and binds to the cell cortex at the site of furrow formation. Our data are consistent with a model in which chromosomes supply microtubules with factors that promote microtubule stability and furrowing.

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Figure 1: Cytokinesis in cells with monopolar spindles a, Monastrol-treated PtK1 cell in prometaphase cell stained for tubulin (green) and DNA (red).
Figure 2: INCENP localizes to furrows in cells with monopolar spindles.
Figure 3: Chromosome-associated stable microtubules at the furrow.
Figure 4: Model of cytokinesis induced by monopolar spindles.


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We thank B. Bowerman, J. Sekelsky, N. Salmon, A. Harris and K. Bloom for comments on the manuscript; C. Waterman-Storer for discussions; the Cell Division Group at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole; and B. Howell, D. Cimini, J. DeLuca, K. Shannon, C. Pearson, B. Moree and all members of the Salmon laboratory for support.

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Canman, J., Cameron, L., Maddox, P. et al. Determining the position of the cell division plane. Nature 424, 1074–1078 (2003).

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