Pushing forces drive the comet-like motility of microtubule arrays in Dictyostelium. Academic Article uri icon


  • Overexpression of dynein fragments in Dictyostelium induces the movement of the entire interphase microtubule array. Centrosomes in these cells circulate through the cytoplasm at rates between 0.4 and 2.5 microm/s and are trailed by a comet-tail like arrangement of the microtubule array. Previous work suggested that these cells use a dynein-mediated pulling mechanism to generate this dramatic movement and that similar forces are at work to maintain the interphase MTOC position in wild-type cells. In the present study, we address the nature of the forces used to produce microtubule movement. We have used a laser microbeam to sever the connection between the motile centrosomes and trailing microtubules, demonstrating that the major force for such motility results from a pushing on the microtubules. We eliminate the possibility that microtubule assembly/disassembly reactions are significant contributors to this motility and suggest that the cell cortex figures prominently in locating force-producing molecules. Our findings indicate that interphase microtubules in Dictyostelium are subject to both dynein- and kinesin-like forces and that these act in concert to maintain centrosome position in the cell and to support the radial character of the microtubule network.

publication date

  • July 2005