Cell Biology

Knowing Your Place

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Science  13 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6091, pp. 135
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6091.135-c
CREDIT: TELLEY ET AL., J. CELL BIOL. 197, 887 (2012)

Often life starts in very large cells. In the fruit fly, thousands of micrometer-sized nuclei distribute in a half-millimeter–sized egg, but it is a mystery how dividing nuclei distribute in the embryo. The positioning of nuclei in the embryo cortex is important for the subsequent cellularization required for successful development. Telley et al. studied a cell extract from individual early Drosophila embryos that was able to faithfully recapitulate repeated mitotic nuclear division cycles. When dividing nuclei were encapsulated in microchambers, the nuclear separation machinery was unable to adapt to reduced space. Thus, a distinct length scale of nuclear separation appears to be programmed into the early insect embryo, which is adapted to the requirements of the early developmental program of the syncytium. This scaling behavior involved actin-dependent microtubule aster migration and anaphase spindle elongation.

J. Cell Biol. 197, 887 (2012).

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