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1.  Bending the Rules: Widefield Microscopy and the Abbe Limit of Resolution 
Journal of cellular physiology  2014;229(2):132-138.
One of the most fundamental concepts of microscopy is that of resolution–the ability to clearly distinguish two objects as separate. Recent advances such as structured illumination microscopy (SIM) and point localization techniques including photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), and stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) strive to overcome the inherent limits of resolution of the modern light microscope. These techniques, however, are not always feasible or optimal for live cell imaging. Thus, in this review, we explore three techniques for extracting high resolution data from images acquired on a widefield microscope–deconvolution, model convolution, and Gaussian fitting. Deconvolution is a powerful tool for restoring a blurred image using knowledge of the point spread function (PSF) describing the blurring of light by the microscope, although care must be taken to ensure accuracy of subsequent quantitative analysis. The process of model convolution also requires knowledge of the PSF to blur a simulated image which can then be compared to the experimentally acquired data to reach conclusions regarding its geometry and fluorophore distribution. Gaussian fitting is the basis for point localization microscopy, and can also be applied to tracking spot motion over time or measuring spot shape and size. All together, these three methods serve as powerful tools for high-resolution imaging using widefield microscopy.
PMCID: PMC4076117  PMID: 23893718
2.  A Close Look at Wiggly Chromosomes 
Developmental cell  2013;25(4):330-332.
Recently in Cell, Fisher et al (2013) use high-resolution time-lapse imaging to peer into bacterial genome (nucleoid) structure. An elastic filament confined via an internal network, the nucleoid undergoes periodic fluctuations critical in relieving tension. Programmed tethers and their release highlight a primordial mechanical cycle for chromosome segregation.
PMCID: PMC3695226  PMID: 23725761
3.  A phosphatidylinositol transfer protein integrates phosphoinositide signaling with lipid droplet metabolism to regulate a developmental program of nutrient stress–induced membrane biogenesis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(5):712-727.
The Sec14-like phosphatidylinositol transfer protein Sfh3 associates with bulk LDs in vegetative cells but targets to a neutral lipid hydrolase-rich LD pool during sporulation. Sfh3 inhibits LD utilization by a PtdIns-4-phosphate–dependent mechanism, and this inhibition prevents prospore membrane biogenesis in sporulating cells.
Lipid droplet (LD) utilization is an important cellular activity that regulates energy balance and release of lipid second messengers. Because fatty acids exhibit both beneficial and toxic properties, their release from LDs must be controlled. Here we demonstrate that yeast Sfh3, an unusual Sec14-like phosphatidylinositol transfer protein, is an LD-associated protein that inhibits lipid mobilization from these particles. We further document a complex biochemical diversification of LDs during sporulation in which Sfh3 and select other LD proteins redistribute into discrete LD subpopulations. The data show that Sfh3 modulates the efficiency with which a neutral lipid hydrolase-rich LD subclass is consumed during biogenesis of specialized membrane envelopes that package replicated haploid meiotic genomes. These results present novel insights into the interface between phosphoinositide signaling and developmental regulation of LD metabolism and unveil meiosis-specific aspects of Sfh3 (and phosphoinositide) biology that are invisible to contemporary haploid-centric cell biological, proteomic, and functional genomics approaches.
PMCID: PMC3937096  PMID: 24403601
4.  Individual pericentromeres display coordinated motion and stretching in the yeast spindle 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;203(3):407-416.
During mitosis, cohesin and condensin cross-link pericentromeres of different chromosomes to coordinate centromere attachment sites.
The mitotic segregation apparatus composed of microtubules and chromatin functions to faithfully partition a duplicated genome into two daughter cells. Microtubules exert extensional pulling force on sister chromatids toward opposite poles, whereas pericentric chromatin resists with contractile springlike properties. Tension generated from these opposing forces silences the spindle checkpoint to ensure accurate chromosome segregation. It is unknown how the cell senses tension across multiple microtubule attachment sites, considering the stochastic dynamics of microtubule growth and shortening. In budding yeast, there is one microtubule attachment site per chromosome. By labeling several chromosomes, we find that pericentromeres display coordinated motion and stretching in metaphase. The pericentromeres of different chromosomes exhibit physical linkage dependent on centromere function and structural maintenance of chromosomes complexes. Coordinated motion is dependent on condensin and the kinesin motor Cin8, whereas coordinated stretching is dependent on pericentric cohesin and Cin8. Linking of pericentric chromatin through cohesin, condensin, and kinetochore microtubules functions to coordinate dynamics across multiple attachment sites.
PMCID: PMC3824013  PMID: 24189271
5.  Cohesion promotes nucleolar structure and function 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(3):337-346.
Mutations in the cohesin acetyltransferase Eco1 or the cohesin ring compromise nucleolar function in budding yeast. A mutation in Eco1 that is associated with the human disease Roberts syndrome compromises looping interactions at the ribosomal DNA and transcription. Depletion of cohesion in a single cell cycle disrupts nucleolar integrity.
The cohesin complex contributes to ribosome function, although the molecular mechanisms involved are unclear. Compromised cohesin function is associated with a class of diseases known as cohesinopathies. One cohesinopathy, Roberts syndrome (RBS), occurs when a mutation reduces acetylation of the cohesin Smc3 subunit. Mutation of the cohesin acetyltransferase is associated with impaired rRNA production, ribosome biogenesis, and protein synthesis in yeast and human cells. Cohesin binding to the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) is evolutionarily conserved from bacteria to human cells. We report that the RBS mutation in yeast (eco1-W216G) exhibits a disorganized nucleolus and reduced looping at the rDNA. RNA polymerase I occupancy of the genes remains normal, suggesting that recruitment is not impaired. Impaired rRNA production in the RBS mutant coincides with slower rRNA cleavage. In addition to the RBS mutation, mutations in any subunit of the cohesin ring are associated with defects in ribosome biogenesis. Depletion or artificial destruction of cohesion in a single cell cycle is associated with loss of nucleolar integrity, demonstrating that the defects at the rDNA can be directly attributed to loss of cohesion. Our results strongly suggest that organization of the rDNA provided by cohesion is critical for formation and function of the nucleolus.
PMCID: PMC3907274  PMID: 24307683
6.  Persistent telomere cohesion triggers a prolonged anaphase 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(1):30-40.
Telomeres use distinct mechanisms to mediate cohesion between sister chromatids. However, the motivation for a specialized mechanism is not well understood. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and live-cell imaging show that persistent sister chromatid cohesion at telomeres triggers a prolonged anaphase in normal human cells and cancer cells.
Telomeres use distinct mechanisms (not used by arms or centromeres) to mediate cohesion between sister chromatids. However, the motivation for a specialized mechanism at telomeres is not well understood. Here we show, using fluorescence in situ hybridization and live-cell imaging, that persistent sister chromatid cohesion at telomeres triggers a prolonged anaphase in normal human cells and cancer cells. Excess cohesion at telomeres can be induced by inhibition of tankyrase 1, a poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase that is required for resolution of telomere cohesion, or by overexpression of proteins required to establish telomere cohesion, the shelterin subunit TIN2 and the cohesin subunit SA1. Regardless of the method of induction, excess cohesion at telomeres in mitosis prevents a robust and efficient anaphase. SA1- or TIN2-induced excess cohesion and anaphase delay can be rescued by overexpression of tankyrase 1. Moreover, we show that primary fibroblasts, which accumulate excess telomere cohesion at mitosis naturally during replicative aging, undergo a similar delay in anaphase progression that can also be rescued by overexpression of tankyrase 1. Our study demonstrates that there are opposing forces that regulate telomere cohesion. The observation that cells respond to unresolved telomere cohesion by delaying (but not completely disrupting) anaphase progression suggests a mechanism for tolerating excess cohesion and maintaining telomere integrity. This attempt to deal with telomere damage may be ultimately futile for aging fibroblasts but useful for cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3873891  PMID: 24173716
7.  The spatial segregation of pericentric cohesin and condensin in the mitotic spindle 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(24):3909-3919.
The mitotic chromatin spring is organized into a rosette of intramolecular loops of pericentric chromatin by condensin and cohesin. Model convolution reveals that condensin clusters along the spindle axis, while cohesin is dispersed radially along pericentromere loops.
In mitosis, the pericentromere is organized into a spring composed of cohesin, condensin, and a rosette of intramolecular chromatin loops. Cohesin and condensin are enriched in the pericentromere, with spatially distinct patterns of localization. Using model convolution of computer simulations, we deduce the mechanistic consequences of their spatial segregation. Condensin lies proximal to the spindle axis, whereas cohesin is radially displaced from condensin and the interpolar microtubules. The histone deacetylase Sir2 is responsible for the axial position of condensin, while the radial displacement of chromatin loops dictates the position of cohesin. The heterogeneity in distribution of condensin is most accurately modeled by clusters along the spindle axis. In contrast, cohesin is evenly distributed (barrel of 500-nm width × 550-nm length). Models of cohesin gradients that decay from the centromere or sister cohesin axis, as previously suggested, do not match experimental images. The fine structures of cohesin and condensin deduced with subpixel localization accuracy reveal critical features of how these complexes mold pericentric chromatin into a functional spring.
PMCID: PMC3861086  PMID: 24152737
8.  SENP1 and SENP2 affect spatial and temporal control of sumoylation in mitosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(22):3483-3495.
Proper temporal and spatial regulation of sumoylation during mitosis is critical for mitotic progression. The SUMO isopeptidases SENP1 and SENP2 localize to key mitotic structures, including kinetochores. Overexpression and RNAi studies demonstrate that SENP1 and SENP2 are important modulators of SUMO function in mitosis.
Sumoylation of centromere, kinetochore, and other mitotic chromosome-associated proteins is essential for chromosome segregation. The mechanisms regulating spatial and temporal sumoylation of proteins in mitosis, however, are not well understood. Here we show that the small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO)–specific isopeptidases SENP1 and SENP2 are targeted to kinetochores in mitosis. SENP2 targeting occurs through a mechanism dependent on the Nup107-160 subcomplex of the nuclear pore complex and is modulated through interactions with karyopherin α. Overexpression of SENP2, but not other SUMO-specific isopeptidases, causes a defect in chromosome congression that depends on its precise kinetochore targeting. By altering SENP1 kinetochore associations, however, this effect on chromosome congression could be phenocopied. In contrast, RNA interference–mediated knockdown of SENP1 delays sister chromatid separation at metaphase, whereas SENP2 knockdown produces no detectable phenotypes. Our findings indicate that chromosome segregation depends on precise spatial and temporal control of sumoylation in mitosis and that SENP1 and SENP2 are important mediators of this control.
PMCID: PMC3826987  PMID: 24048451
9.  Distinct roles for antiparallel microtubule pairing and overlap during early spindle assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(20):3238-3250.
Correlation of spindle architecture with dynamic behavior shows that pairs of antiparallel microtubules are sufficient to form a bipolar spindle, whereas interpolar microtubules maintain the speed of pole displacement during spindle assembly. The number of interpolar microtubules formed is controlled in part through γ-tubulin phosphorylation.
During spindle assembly, microtubules may attach to kinetochores or pair to form antiparallel pairs or interpolar microtubules, which span the two spindle poles and contribute to mitotic pole separation and chromosome segregation. Events in the specification of the interpolar microtubules are poorly understood. Using three-dimensional electron tomography and analysis of spindle dynamical behavior in living cells, we investigated the process of spindle assembly. Unexpectedly, we found that the phosphorylation state of an evolutionarily conserved Cdk1 site (S360) in γ-tubulin is correlated with the number and organization of interpolar microtubules. Mimicking S360 phosphorylation (S360D) results in bipolar spindles with a normal number of microtubules but lacking interpolar microtubules. Inhibiting S360 phosphorylation (S360A) results in spindles with interpolar microtubules and high-angle, antiparallel microtubule pairs. The latter are also detected in wild-type spindles <1 μm in length, suggesting that high-angle microtubule pairing represents an intermediate step in interpolar microtubule formation. Correlation of spindle architecture with dynamical behavior suggests that microtubule pairing is sufficient to separate the spindle poles, whereas interpolar microtubules maintain the velocity of pole displacement during early spindle assembly. Our findings suggest that the number of interpolar microtubules formed during spindle assembly is controlled in part through activities at the spindle poles.
PMCID: PMC3806661  PMID: 23966467
10.  RanGTP and CLASP1 cooperate to position the mitotic spindle 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(16):2506-2514.
RanGTP positions the mitotic spindle by controlling cortical LGN and NuMA localization and enhancing astral microtubule elongation. Spindle miscentering caused by the Ran-pathway inhibitor importazole is rescued by overexpression of CLASP1, which functions independently to stabilize astral microtubule interactions with the cell cortex.
Accurate positioning of the mitotic spindle is critical to ensure proper distribution of chromosomes during cell division. The small GTPase Ran, which regulates a variety of processes throughout the cell cycle, including interphase nucleocytoplasmic transport and mitotic spindle assembly, was recently shown to also control spindle alignment. Ran is required for the correct cortical localization of LGN and nuclear-mitotic apparatus protein (NuMA), proteins that generate pulling forces on astral microtubules (MTs) through cytoplasmic dynein. Here we use importazole, a small-molecule inhibitor of RanGTP/importin-β function, to study the role of Ran in spindle positioning in human cells. We find that importazole treatment results in defects in astral MT dynamics, as well as in mislocalization of LGN and NuMA, leading to misoriented spindles. Of interest, importazole-induced spindle-centering defects can be rescued by nocodazole treatment, which depolymerizes astral MTs, or by overexpression of CLASP1, which does not restore proper LGN and NuMA localization but stabilizes astral MT interactions with the cortex. Together our data suggest a model for mitotic spindle positioning in which RanGTP and CLASP1 cooperate to align the spindle along the long axis of the dividing cell.
PMCID: PMC3744954  PMID: 23783028
11.  Intranuclear DNA density affects chromosome condensation in metazoans 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(15):2442-2453.
Quantification of mitotic chromosomes in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos and a Xenopus laevis egg extract system indicates that the chromosome amount per nuclear space, or “intranuclear DNA density,” regulates chromosome condensation. This suggests an adaptive mode of chromosome condensation regulation in metazoans.
Chromosome condensation is critical for accurate inheritance of genetic information. The degree of condensation, which is reflected in the size of the condensed chromosomes during mitosis, is not constant. It is differentially regulated in embryonic and somatic cells. In addition to the developmentally programmed regulation of chromosome condensation, there may be adaptive regulation based on spatial parameters such as genomic length or cell size. We propose that chromosome condensation is affected by a spatial parameter called the chromosome amount per nuclear space, or “intranuclear DNA density.” Using Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, we show that condensed chromosome sizes vary during early embryogenesis. Of importance, changing DNA content to haploid or polyploid changes the condensed chromosome size, even at the same developmental stage. Condensed chromosome size correlates with interphase nuclear size. Finally, a reduction in nuclear size in a cell-free system from Xenopus laevis eggs resulted in reduced condensed chromosome sizes. These data support the hypothesis that intranuclear DNA density regulates chromosome condensation. This suggests an adaptive mode of chromosome condensation regulation in metazoans.
PMCID: PMC3727936  PMID: 23783035
12.  Pericentric chromatin loops function as a nonlinear spring in mitotic force balance 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;200(6):757-772.
During mitosis, cohesin- and condensin-based pericentric chromatin loops function as a spring network to balance spindle microtubule force.
The mechanisms by which sister chromatids maintain biorientation on the metaphase spindle are critical to the fidelity of chromosome segregation. Active force interplay exists between predominantly extensional microtubule-based spindle forces and restoring forces from chromatin. These forces regulate tension at the kinetochore that silences the spindle assembly checkpoint to ensure faithful chromosome segregation. Depletion of pericentric cohesin or condensin has been shown to increase the mean and variance of spindle length, which have been attributed to a softening of the linear chromatin spring. Models of the spindle apparatus with linear chromatin springs that match spindle dynamics fail to predict the behavior of pericentromeric chromatin in wild-type and mutant spindles. We demonstrate that a nonlinear spring with a threshold extension to switch between spring states predicts asymmetric chromatin stretching observed in vivo. The addition of cross-links between adjacent springs recapitulates coordination between pericentromeres of neighboring chromosomes.
PMCID: PMC3601350  PMID: 23509068
13.  Phosphorylation of centromeric histone H3 variant regulates chromosome segregation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(12):2034-2044.
Cse4 is posttranslationally modified in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Ipl1 contributes to Cse4 phosphorylation in vivo and in vitro. Phosphorylation of Cse4 at centromeres is enhanced in response to nocodazole or reduced cohesion. The results suggest that phosphorylation of Cse4 ensures faithful chromosome segregation.
The centromeric histone H3 variant (CenH3) is essential for chromosome segregation in eukaryotes. We identify posttranslational modifications of Saccharomyces cerevisiae CenH3, Cse4. Functional characterization of cse4 phosphorylation mutants shows growth and chromosome segregation defects when combined with kinetochore mutants okp1 and ame1. Using a phosphoserine-specific antibody, we show that the association of phosphorylated Cse4 with centromeres increases in response to defective microtubule attachment or reduced cohesion. We determine that evolutionarily conserved Ipl1/Aurora B contributes to phosphorylation of Cse4, as levels of phosphorylated Cse4 are reduced at centromeres in ipl1 strains in vivo, and in vitro assays show phosphorylation of Cse4 by Ipl1. Consistent with these results, we observe that a phosphomimetic cse4-4SD mutant suppresses the temperature-sensitive growth of ipl1-2 and Ipl1 substrate mutants dam1 spc34 and ndc80, which are defective for chromosome biorientation. Furthermore, cell biology approaches using a green fluorescent protein–labeled chromosome show that cse4-4SD suppresses chromosome segregation defects in dam1 spc34 strains. On the basis of these results, we propose that phosphorylation of Cse4 destabilizes defective kinetochores to promote biorientation and ensure faithful chromosome segregation. Taken together, our results provide a detailed analysis, in vivo and in vitro, of Cse4 phosphorylation and its role in promoting faithful chromosome segregation.
PMCID: PMC3681705  PMID: 23637466
14.  Systematic Triple Mutant Analysis Uncovers Functional Connectivity Between Pathways Involved in Chromosome Regulation 
Cell reports  2013;3(6):2168-2178.
Genetic interactions reveal the functional relationships between pairs of genes. In this study, we describe a method for the systematic generation and quantitation of triple mutants, termed Triple Mutant Analysis (TMA). We have used this approach to interrogate partially redundant pairs of genes in S. cerevisiae, including ASF1 and CAC1, two histone chaperones. After subjecting asf1Δ cac1Δ to TMA, we found that the Swi/Snf Rdh54 protein, compensates for the absence of Asf1 and Cac1. Rdh54 more strongly associates with the chromatin apparatus and the pericentromeric region in the double mutant. Moreover, Asf1 is responsible for the synthetic lethality observed in cac1Δ strains lacking the HIRA-like proteins. A similar TMA was carried out after deleting both CLB5 and CLB6, cyclins that regulate DNA replication, revealing a strong functional connection to chromosome segregation. This approach can reveal functional redundancies that cannot be uncovered using traditional double mutant analyses.
PMCID: PMC3718395  PMID: 23746449
15.  The internal loop of fission yeast Ndc80 binds Alp7/TACC-Alp14/TOG and ensures proper chromosome attachment 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(8):1122-1133.
The Ndc80 outer kinetochore complex plays a critical role in kinetochore–microtubule attachment. A ubiquitous internal loop of Ndc80 acts as a structural platform by which to recruit the Alp7/TACC-Alp14/TOG microtubule-binding complex to the outer kinetochore. This interaction ensures proper chromosome attachment and segregation.
The Ndc80 outer kinetochore complex plays a critical role in kinetochore–microtubule attachment, yet our understanding of the mechanism by which this complex interacts with spindle microtubules for timely and accurate chromosome segregation remains limited. Here we address this issue using an ndc80 mutant (ndc80-NH12) from fission yeast that contains a point mutation within a ubiquitous internal loop. This mutant is normal for assembly of the Ndc80 complex and bipolar spindle formation yet defective in proper end-on attachment to the spindle microtubule, with chromosome alignment defects and missegregation happening later during mitosis. We find that ndc80-NH12 exhibits impaired localization of the microtubule-associated protein complex Alp7/transforming acidic coiled coil (TACC)-Alp14/tumor-overexpressed gene (TOG) to the mitotic kinetochore. Consistently, wild-type Ndc80 binds these two proteins, whereas the Ndc80-NH12 mutant protein displays a substantial reduction of interaction. Crucially, forced targeting of Alp7–Alp14 to the outer kinetochore rescues ndc80-NH12-mutant phenotypes. The loop was previously shown to bind Dis1/TOG, by which it ensures initial chromosome capture during early mitosis. Strikingly, ndc80-NH12 is normal in Dis1 localization. Genetic results indicate that the loop recruits Dis1/TOG and Alp7/TACC-Alp14/TOG independently. Our work therefore establishes that the Ndc80 loop plays sequential roles in spindle–kinetochore attachment by connecting the Ndc80 complex to Dis1/TOG and Alp7/TACC-Alp14/TOG.
PMCID: PMC3623634  PMID: 23427262
16.  Intellectual immigration 
Current biology : CB  2013;23(6):R221-R223.
The influx of physicists to the realm of biology around 1940 represented the birth of molecular biology. Now, with the sequencing of thousands of genomes and the promise of the $1,000 human genome, we find ourselves returning to physics. The cell is a foreign place, one that requires concepts from physics and statistical mechanics to gain a basic understanding.
PMCID: PMC3685682  PMID: 23518046
17.  akirin is required for diakinesis bivalent structure and synaptonemal complex disassembly at meiotic prophase I 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(7):1053-1067.
Formation of a condensed and properly remodeled bivalent is required for accurate execution of meiosis. Meiotic roles are identified for the highly evolutionarily conserved protein AKIRIN in bivalent remodeling in a synaptonemal complex (SC)–dependent and SC–independent manner, demonstrating that proper SC disassembly is crucial for bivalent structure.
During meiosis, evolutionarily conserved mechanisms regulate chromosome remodeling, leading to the formation of a tight bivalent structure. This bivalent, a linked pair of homologous chromosomes, is essential for proper chromosome segregation in meiosis. The formation of a tight bivalent involves chromosome condensation and restructuring around the crossover. The synaptonemal complex (SC), which mediates homologous chromosome association before crossover formation, disassembles concurrently with increased condensation during bivalent remodeling. Both chromosome condensation and SC disassembly are likely critical steps in acquiring functional bivalent structure. The mechanisms controlling SC disassembly, however, remain unclear. Here we identify akir-1 as a gene involved in key events of meiotic prophase I in Caenorhabditis elegans. AKIR-1 is a protein conserved among metazoans that lacks any previously known function in meiosis. We show that akir-1 mutants exhibit severe meiotic defects in late prophase I, including improper disassembly of the SC and aberrant chromosome condensation, independently of the condensin complexes. These late-prophase defects then lead to aberrant reconfiguring of the bivalent. The meiotic divisions are delayed in akir-1 mutants and are accompanied by lagging chromosomes. Our analysis therefore provides evidence for an important role of proper SC disassembly in configuring a functional bivalent structure.
PMCID: PMC3608493  PMID: 23363597
18.  Assembly in G1 phase and long-term stability are unique intrinsic features of CENP-A nucleosomes 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(7):923-932.
Centromeres are epigenetically defined by CENP-A nucleosomes. SNAP tagging is used to determine the composition of the heritable centromeric chromatin core. Assembly during G1 and stable maintenance at centromeres are restricted to CENP-A and H4. The CATD is the protein domain of CENP-A that is responsible for both features.
Centromeres are the site of kinetochore formation during mitosis. Centromere protein A (CENP-A), the centromere-specific histone H3 variant, is essential for the epigenetic maintenance of centromere position. Previously we showed that newly synthesized CENP-A is targeted to centromeres exclusively during early G1 phase and is subsequently maintained across mitotic divisions. Using SNAP-based fluorescent pulse labeling, we now demonstrate that cell cycle–restricted chromatin assembly at centromeres is unique to CENP-A nucleosomes and does not involve assembly of other H3 variants. Strikingly, stable retention is restricted to the CENP-A/H4 core of the nucleosome, which we find to outlast general chromatin across several cell divisions. We further show that cell cycle timing of CENP-A assembly is independent of centromeric DNA sequences and instead is mediated by the CENP-A targeting domain. Unexpectedly, this domain also induces stable transmission of centromeric nucleosomes, independent of the CENP-A deposition factor HJURP. This demonstrates that intrinsic properties of the CENP-A protein direct its cell cycle–restricted assembly and induces quantitative mitotic transmission of the CENP-A/H4 nucleosome core, ensuring long-term stability and epigenetic maintenance of centromere position.
PMCID: PMC3608502  PMID: 23363600
19.  Nuclear structure and function 
PMCID: PMC3596233  PMID: 23486397
20.  Sequential steps in DNA replication are inhibited to ensure reduction of ploidy in meiosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(5):578-587.
Reduction in ploidy in meiosis is assumed to be due to a block to the licensing step (Mcm helicase association with replication origins). When the licensing block is subverted, replication is still only partial due to inefficient elongation replication forks. This might constitute an additional level of replication regulation.
Meiosis involves two successive rounds of chromosome segregation without an intervening S phase. Exit from meiosis I is distinct from mitotic exit, in that replication origins are not licensed by Mcm2-7 chromatin binding, but spindle disassembly occurs during a transient interphase-like state before meiosis II. The absence of licensing is assumed to explain the block to DNA replication, but this has not been formally tested. Here we attempt to subvert this block by expressing the licensing control factors Cdc18 and Cdt1 during the interval between meiotic nuclear divisions. Surprisingly, this leads only to a partial round of DNA replication, even when these factors are overexpressed and effect clear Mcm2-7 chromatin binding. Combining Cdc18 and Cdt1 expression with modulation of cyclin-dependent kinase activity, activation of Dbf4-dependent kinase, or deletion of the Spd1 inhibitor of ribonucleotide reductase has little additional effect on the extent of DNA replication. Single-molecule analysis indicates this partial round of replication results from inefficient progression of replication forks, and thus both initiation and elongation replication steps may be inhibited in late meiosis. In addition, DNA replication or damage during the meiosis I–II interval fails to arrest meiotic progress, suggesting absence of checkpoint regulation of meiosis II entry.
PMCID: PMC3583662  PMID: 23303250
21.  Nonrandom Distribution of Interhomolog Recombination Events Induced by Breakage of a Dicentric Chromosome in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genetics  2013;194(1):69-80.
Dicentric chromosomes undergo breakage in mitosis, resulting in chromosome deletions, duplications, and translocations. In this study, we map chromosome break sites of dicentrics in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by a mitotic recombination assay. The assay uses a diploid strain in which one homolog has a conditional centromere in addition to a wild-type centromere, and the other homolog has only the wild-type centromere; the conditional centromere is inactive when cells are grown in galactose and is activated when the cells are switched to glucose. In addition, the two homologs are distinguishable by multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Under conditions in which the conditional centromere is activated, the functionally dicentric chromosome undergoes double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs) that can be repaired by mitotic recombination with the homolog. Such recombination events often lead to loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of SNPs that are centromere distal to the crossover. Using a PCR-based assay, we determined the position of LOH in multiple independent recombination events to a resolution of ∼4 kb. This analysis shows that dicentric chromosomes have recombination breakpoints that are broadly distributed between the two centromeres, although there is a clustering of breakpoints within 10 kb of the conditional centromere.
PMCID: PMC3632482  PMID: 23410835
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; dicentric chromosomes; mitotic crossovers; loss of heterozygosity; break-induced replication
22.  Bub1 kinase and Sgo1 modulate chromatin structure and dynamics in response to changes in microtubule dynamics 
Current Biology  2012;22(6):471-481.
Tension sensing of bi-oriented chromosomes is essential for the fidelity of chromosome segregation. The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) conveys lack of tension or attachment to the anaphase promoting complex. Components of the SAC (Bub1) phosphorylate histone H2A (S121) and recruit the protector of cohesin, Shugoshin (Sgo1) to the inner centromere. How the chromatin structural modifications of the inner centromere are integrated into the tension sensing mechanisms and the checkpoint are not known.
We have identified a Bub1/Sgo1 dependent structural change in the geometry and dynamics of kinetochores and the pericentric chromatin upon reduction of microtubule dynamics. The cluster of inner kinetochores contract while the pericentric chromatin and cohesin that encircle spindle microtubules undergo a radial expansion. Despite its increased spatial distribution, the pericentric chromatin is less dynamic. The change in dynamics is due to histone H2A phosphorylation and Sgo1 recruitment to the pericentric chromatin, rather than microtubule dynamics.
Bub1 and Sgo1 act as a rheostat to regulate the chromatin spring and maintain force balance. Through Histone H2A S121 phosphorylation and recruitment of Sgo1, Bub1 kinase softens the chromatin spring in response to changes in microtubule dynamics. The geometric alteration of all 16 kinetochores and pericentric chromatin reflect global changes in the pericentromeric region and provide mechanisms for mechanically amplifying damage at a single kinetochore microtubule.
PMCID: PMC3311747  PMID: 22365852
23.  Histone H1 compacts DNA under force and during chromatin assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(24):4864-4871.
Histone H1 induces bending and looping of single DNA molecules at nanomolar concentrations. H1 increases the rate of assembly for single chromatin fibers under force in Xenopus egg extracts and protects decondensing sperm nuclei from stretching and fragmenting in egg cytoplasm.
Histone H1 binds to linker DNA between nucleosomes, but the dynamics and biological ramifications of this interaction remain poorly understood. We performed single-molecule experiments using magnetic tweezers to determine the effects of H1 on naked DNA in buffer or during chromatin assembly in Xenopus egg extracts. In buffer, nanomolar concentrations of H1 induce bending and looping of naked DNA at stretching forces below 0.6 pN, effects that can be reversed with 2.7-pN force or in 200 mM monovalent salt concentrations. Consecutive tens-of-nanometer bending events suggest that H1 binds to naked DNA in buffer at high stoichiometries. In egg extracts, single DNA molecules assemble into nucleosomes and undergo rapid compaction. Histone H1 at endogenous physiological concentrations increases the DNA compaction rate during chromatin assembly under 2-pN force and decreases it during disassembly under 5-pN force. In egg cytoplasm, histone H1 protects sperm nuclei undergoing genome-wide decondensation and chromatin assembly from becoming abnormally stretched or fragmented due to astral microtubule pulling forces. These results reveal functional ramifications of H1 binding to DNA at the single-molecule level and suggest an important physiological role for H1 in compacting DNA under force and during chromatin assembly.
PMCID: PMC3521692  PMID: 23097493
24.  Coiled-coil networking shapes cell molecular machinery 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(19):3911-3922.
Coiled coil is a principal oligomerization motif. A comprehensive map of coiled-coil interactions (CCIs) in yeast is reported. Computational analysis reveals that CCIs are extensively involved in cell machinery organization. Disrupting the CCIs in the kinetochore leads to defects in kinetochore assembly and cell division.
The highly abundant α-helical coiled-coil motif not only mediates crucial protein–protein interactions in the cell but is also an attractive scaffold in synthetic biology and material science and a potential target for disease intervention. Therefore a systematic understanding of the coiled-coil interactions (CCIs) at the organismal level would help unravel the full spectrum of the biological function of this interaction motif and facilitate its application in therapeutics. We report the first identified genome-wide CCI network in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which consists of 3495 pair-wise interactions among 598 predicted coiled-coil regions. Computational analysis revealed that the CCI network is specifically and functionally organized and extensively involved in the organization of cell machinery. We further show that CCIs play a critical role in the assembly of the kinetochore, and disruption of the CCI network leads to defects in kinetochore assembly and cell division. The CCI network identified in this study is a valuable resource for systematic characterization of coiled coils in the shaping and regulation of a host of cellular machineries and provides a basis for the utilization of coiled coils as domain-based probes for network perturbation and pharmacological applications.
PMCID: PMC3459866  PMID: 22875988
25.  Pac-man motility of kinetochores unleashed by laser microsurgery 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(16):3133-3142.
Experiments reveal pac-man motility in kinetochores of X-Y chromosomes, even though their normal behavior is dominated by traction fiber mechanics. A laser microbeam is used to release kinetochores in anaphase from tension. There is a poleward motion of released kinetochores twice as fast as normal and faster than tubulin flux.
We report on experiments directly in living cells that reveal the regulation of kinetochore function by tension. X and Y sex chromosomes in crane fly (Nephrotoma suturalis) spermatocytes exhibit an atypical segregation mechanism in which each univalent maintains K-fibers to both poles. During anaphase, each maintains a leading fiber (which shortens) to one pole and a trailing fiber (which elongates) to the other. We used this intriguing behavior to study the motile states that X-Y kinetochores are able to support during anaphase. We used a laser microbeam to either sever a univalent along the plane of sister chromatid cohesion or knock out one of a univalent's two kinetochores to release one or both from the resistive influence of its sister's K-fiber. Released kinetochores with attached chromosome arms moved poleward at rates at least two times faster than normal. Furthermore, fluorescent speckle microscopy revealed that detached kinetochores converted their functional state from reverse pac-man to pac-man motility as a consequence of their release from mechanical tension. We conclude that kinetochores can exhibit pac-man motility, even though their normal behavior is dominated by traction fiber mechanics. Unleashing of kinetochore motility through loss of resistive force is further evidence for the emerging model that kinetochores are subject to tension-sensitive regulation.
PMCID: PMC3418308  PMID: 22740625

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