Cell division in Dictyostelium with special emphasis on actomyosin organization in cytokinesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study focuses on the dynamic reorganization of actin and myosin ("conventional" myosin, or myosin-II) during cytokinesis in D. discoideum. This is the first study identifying the birefringence of the spindle microtubules as well as three sets of microfilamentous structure in Dictyostelium. The change of organization in these fibrillar structures was followed in real-time with video microscopy, using a Universal Polarizing Microscope equipped with polarized-light (POL) and differential interference contrast (DIC) optics combined with digital image processing. High-frequency mitotic cells were obtained by semi-synchronous culture, and high-resolution observations were made by utilizing the agar-overlay method (Yumura et al.: Journal of Cell Biology 99:894-899, 1984). The molecular identity of the birefringent structures was determined by fluorescence microscopy. Through-focus observations were performed with an axial resolution of 0.3 micron depth of field. The actomyosin fibrils show a dramatic reorganization throughout mitosis. The fibrils at the leading lamellipodia disappear, and there is a striking assembly of the cortical actomyosin in pro-metaphase, which is accompanied by a decrease in cell volume. The cortical actomyosin gradually increases through anaphase. After late anaphase, very active polar lamellipodia, with an average life of less than 1 minute, are formed. We confirmed that the polar lamellipodia include actin, but not myosin-II. At the cleavage furrow, the microfilaments form two distinctive structures: circular contractile ring at the equator, and a cortical filament array parallel to the polar axis. Myosin is localized in the contractile ring, but not associated with the axial array of F-actin. Actomyosin in the contractile ring gradually transforms into cortical network at the posterior region of daughter cells. The constriction of the furrow is accompanied by a drastic efflux of water as evidenced by highly active contractile vacuole formation and turbulent motion of minute vesicles connected to the furrow. This study demonstrates the presence of a new microfilament structure, as well as the dynamic property of the contractile ring, and sheds new light on the contractile mechanisms underlying cytokinesis.

publication date

  • 1991