Distinct modes of mitotic spindle orientation align cells in the dorsal midline of ascidian embryos

Takefumi Negishi, Hitoyoshi Yasuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The orientation of cell division can have important consequences on the choice of cell fates adopted by each daughter cell as well as on the architecture of the tissue within which the dividing cell resides. We have studied in detail the oriented cell divisions that take place in the dorsal midline of the ascidian embryo. The dorsal midline cells of the ascidian embryo emerge following an asymmetric cell division oriented along the animal–vegetal (A–V) axis. This division generates the NN (Notochord–Neural) cell at the margin and the E (Endoderm) cell more vegetally. Deviating from the default mode of cell division, these sister cells divide again along the A–V axis to generate a column of four cells. We describe these cell divisions in detail. We show that the NN cell mitotic spindle rotates 90° to align along the A–V axis while the E cell spindle forms directly along the axis following the asymmetric migration of its centrosomes. We combine live imaging, embryo manipulations and pharmacological modulation of cytoskeletal elements to address the mechanisms underlying these distinct subcellular behaviours. Our evidence suggests that, in E cells, aster asymmetry together with the E cell shape contribute to the asymmetric centrosome migration. In NN cells, an intrinsic cytoplasmic polarisation of the cell results in the accumulation of dynein to the animal pole side. Our data support a model in which a dynein-dependent directional cytoplasmic pulling force may be responsible for the NN cell spindle rotation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-78
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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