Fission yeast cells undergo nuclear division in the absence of spindle microtubules


Mitosis in eukaryotic cells employs spindle microtubules to drive accurate chromosome segregation at cell division. Cells lacking spindle microtubules arrest in mitosis due to a spindle checkpoint that delays mitotic progression until all chromosomes have achieved stable bipolar attachment to spindle microtubules. In fission yeast, mitosis occurs within an intact nuclear membrane with the mitotic spindle elongating between the spindle pole bodies. We show here that in fission yeast interference with mitotic spindle formation delays mitosis only briefly and cells proceed to an unusual nuclear division process we term nuclear fission, during which cells perform some chromosome segregation and efficiently enter S-phase of the next cell cycle. Nuclear fission is blocked if spindle pole body maturation or sister chromatid separation cannot take place or if actin polymerization is inhibited. We suggest that this process exhibits vestiges of a primitive nuclear division process independent of spindle microtubules, possibly reflecting an evolutionary intermediate state between bacterial and Archeal chromosome segregation where the nucleoid divides without a spindle and a microtubule spindle-based eukaryotic mitosis.

Journal details

Journal PLOS Biology
Volume 8
Issue number 10
Pages e1000512
Publication date