ESCRT-III Assembly and Cytokinetic Abscission Are Induced by Tension Release in the Intercellular Bridge

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Science  29 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6127, pp. 1625-1629
DOI: 10.1126/science.1233866

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Making the Final Cut

Abscission, the final separation of two daughter cells, was long thought to be an unimportant step in cytokinesis, triggered merely by the cells pulling strongly enough on the bridge to rupture it. Research over the past 10 years, however, has challenged this notion. Defects in cutting the cytokinetic bridge can lead to the formation of large networks of connected cells or to binucleate cells. Lafaurie-Janvore et al. (p. 1625) now show that the forces postmitotic cells exert on the cytokinetic bridge play an important role in abscission: Surprisingly, increasing the tension in the bridge inhibits abscission, while reducing tension induces abscission. This could provide a sensing mechanism to ensure that daughter cells establish sound connections with their surrounding cells and matrix before detaching from one another.


The last step of cell division, cytokinesis, produces two daughter cells that remain connected by an intercellular bridge. This state often represents the longest stage of the division process. Severing the bridge (abscission) requires a well-described series of molecular events, but the trigger for abscission remains unknown. We found that pulling forces exerted by daughter cells on the intercellular bridge appear to regulate abscission. Counterintuitively, these forces prolonged connection, whereas a release of tension induced abscission. Tension release triggered the assembly of ESCRT-III (endosomal sorting complex required for transport–III), which was followed by membrane fission. This mechanism may allow daughter cells to remain connected until they have settled in their final locations, a process potentially important for tissue organization and morphogenesis.

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