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In JoVE (1)

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Articles by Koen J. C. Verbrugghe in JoVE

 JoVE Biology

Imaging C. elegans Embryos using an Epifluorescent Microscope and Open Source Software

1Human Genetics, University of Michigan


JoVE 2625

The C. elegans embryo is a powerful system for studying cell biology and development. We present a protocol for live imaging of C. elegans embryos utilizing DIC optics or fluorescence using readily available epifluorescent microscopes and open-source software.

Other articles by Koen J. C. Verbrugghe on PubMed

SPD-1 is Required for the Formation of the Spindle Midzone but is Not Essential for the Completion of Cytokinesis in C. Elegans Embryos

The process of cytokinesis can be divided into two stages: the assembly and constriction of an actomyosin ring giving rise to a narrow intracellular canal and the final breaking and resealing of this canal. Mutations in several genes of Caenorhabditis elegans disrupt the spindle midzone (anti-parallel microtubules and associated proteins that form between the spindle poles) and give rise to failures in the completion of cytokinesis. We show that loss of function of spd-1 causes midzone disruptions, although cytokinesis generally completes. SPD-1 is a conserved microtubule-bundling protein that localizes to the midzone and also to microtubule bundles in the cytoplasm. The midzone localization of SPD-1 is perturbed in embryos depleted of other midzone components, yet the cytoplasmic bundles are not affected. We found that two other midzone components also localize to the ingressing furrow in wild-type embryos; when SPD-1 is depleted, there is no visible midzone, and only this furrow localization remains. SPD-1 differs from other midzone components in that it is essential for the integrity of the midzone, yet not for cytokinesis. Also, it can localize to the midzone when other midzone components are depleted, suggesting that SPD-1 may play an early role in the pathway of midzone assembly.

Cortical Centralspindlin and G Alpha Have Parallel Roles in Furrow Initiation in Early C. Elegans Embryos

Evidence from various systems suggests that either asters or the midzone of the mitotic spindle are the predominant determinants of cleavage plane position. Disrupting spindle midzone formation in the one-cell Caenorhabditis elegans embryo, such as by using mutants of the centralspindlin component ZEN-4, prevents completion of cytokinesis but does not inhibit furrowing. However, furrowing is inhibited by the simultaneous depletion of ZEN-4 with either PAR-2 or G alpha, which are required for asymmetric divisions. Through studies of other genes required for the presence of an intact spindle midzone containing microtubule bundles, we found that furrowing failed in the absence of PAR-2 or G alpha only when centralspindlin was absent from the furrow. We also found spindle length or microtubule distribution did not correlate with furrow initiation. We propose that centralspindlin acts redundantly with G alpha to regulate furrow initiation.

Action at a Distance During Cytokinesis

Animal cells decide where to build the cytokinetic apparatus by sensing the position of the mitotic spindle. Reflecting a long-standing presumption that a furrow-inducing stimulus travels from spindle to cortex via microtubules, debate continues about which microtubules, and in what geometry, are essential for accurate cytokinesis. We used live imaging in urchin and frog embryos to evaluate the relationship between microtubule organization and cytokinetic furrow position. In normal cells, the cytokinetic apparatus forms in a region of lower cortical microtubule density. Remarkably, cells depleted of astral microtubules conduct accurate, complete cytokinesis. Conversely, in anucleate cells, asters alone can support furrow induction without a spindle, but only when sufficiently separated. Ablation of a single centrosome displaces furrows away from the remaining centrosome; ablation of both centrosomes causes broad, inefficient furrowing. We conclude that the asters confer accuracy and precision to a primary furrow-inducing signal that can reach the cell surface from the spindle without transport on microtubules.

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