Uncovering the balance of forces driving microtubule aster migration in C. elegans zygotes

  • publication
  • 05-03-2018

De Simone A, Spahr A, Busso C, Gönczy P. Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 5;9(1):938. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03118-x.

Microtubule asters must be positioned precisely within cells. How forces generated by molecular motors such as dynein are integrated in space and time to enable such positioning remains unclear. In particular, whereas aster movements depend on the drag caused by cytoplasm viscosity, in vivo drag measurements are lacking, precluding a thorough understanding of the mechanisms governing aster positioning. Here, we investigate this fundamental question during the migration of asters and pronuclei in C. elegans zygotes, a process essential for the mixing of parental genomes. Detailed quantification of these movements using the female pronucleus as an in vivo probe establish that the drag coefficient of the male-asters complex is approximately five times that of the female pronucleus. Further analysis of embryos lacking cortical dynein, the connection between asters and male pronucleus, or the male pronucleus altogether, uncovers the balance of dynein-driven forces that accurately position microtubule asters in C. elegans zygotes.

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