The polarity-induced force imbalance in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos is caused by asymmetric binding rates of dynein to the cortex

Feb 27, 2020 | Publications

Ruddi Rodriguez-Garcia, Laurent Chesneau, Sylvain Pastezeur, Julien Roul, Marc Tramier, Jacques Pécréaux

Molecular Biology of the Cell, American Society for Cell Biology, 2018, 29 (26), pp.3063-3200. (10.1091/mbc.E17-11-0653)(hal-01903171)


During asymmetric cell division, the molecular motor dynein generates cortical pulling forces which position the spindle to reflect polarity and adequately distribute cell fate determinants. In Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, despite a measured anteroposterior force imbalance, antibody staining failed to reveal dynein enrichment at the posterior cortex, suggesting a transient localization there. Dynein accumulates at the microtubule plus ends, indirectly binding to EBP-2. This accumulation, although not transporting dynein, contributes modestly to cortical forces. Most dyneins may instead diffuse to the cortex. Tracking of cortical dynein revealed two motions one directed, and the other diffusive-like, corresponding to force-generating events. Surprisingly, while dynein is not polarized at the plus ends or in the cytoplasm, diffusive-like tracks were more frequently found at the embryo posterior tip, where the forces are higher. This asymmetry depends on GPR-1/2 and LIN-5, which are enriched there. In csnk-1(RNAi) embryos, the inverse distribution of these proteins coincides with an increased frequency of diffusive-like tracks anteriorly. Importantly, dynein cortical residence time is always symmetric. We propose that the dynein binding rate at the posterior cortex is increased, causing the polarity-reflecting force imbalance. This mechanism of control supplements the regulation of mitotic progression through the non-polarized dynein detachment rate.


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