Microtubule dynamics in cell division: exploring living cells with polarized light microscopy. Academic Article uri icon


  • This Perspective is an account of my early experience while I studied the dynamic organization and behavior of the mitotic spindle and its submicroscopic filaments using polarized light microscopy. The birefringence of spindle filaments in normally dividing plant and animal cells, and those treated by various agents, revealed (a) the reality of spindle fibers and fibrils in healthy living cells; (b) the labile, dynamic nature of the molecular filaments making up the spindle fibers; (c) the mode of fibrogenesis and action of orienting centers; and (d) force-generating properties based on the disassembly and assembly of the fibrils. These studies, which were carried out directly on living cells using improved polarizing microscopes, in fact predicted the reversible assembly properties of microtubules.

publication date

  • 2008