Cell Biology

Organization Without an Organizer

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Science  23 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5756, pp. 1873
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5756.1873b

Within cells, the tracks provided by microtubules are important for a whole variety of cellular processes, not least when microtubules form into a spindle in order to promote the separation of chromosomes during mitosis. Such microtubule arrays are arranged around organizing centers known as the centrosomes. However, within the cell there also exist well-organized arrays of microtubules that form without the aid of centrosomes. Reilein et al. describe the organizing principles involved in producing acentrosomal microtubule networks found in the basal cortex of epithelial cells. Microtubules are formed from tubulin monomers, and microtubule networks in a steady state contain growing and shrinking microtubules. Typically, in order to grow, microtubules need to be anchored somehow. By imaging microtubule dynamics in cytoplasts derived from the base of epithelial cells, the authors showed that networks of microtubules form based on microtubule-microtubule interactions and microtubule-cortex interactions. Each type of interaction increased microtubule stability. By modeling the parameters involved, in particular by including stabilizing interactions, the authors could replicate in silico the type of stable arrays observed within cells. — SMH

J. Cell Biol. 171, 845 (2005).

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