Poleward microtubule flux is a major component of spindle dynamics and anaphase a in mitotic Drosophila embryos. Academic Article uri icon


  • During cell division, eukaryotic cells assemble dynamic microtubule-based spindles to segregate replicated chromosomes. Rapid spindle microtubule turnover, likely derived from dynamic instability, has been documented in yeasts, plants and vertebrates. Less studied is concerted spindle microtubule poleward translocation (flux) coupled to depolymerization at spindle poles. Microtubule flux has been observed only in vertebrates, although there is indirect evidence for it in insect spermatocytes and higher plants. Here we use fluorescent speckle microscopy (FSM) to demonstrate that mitotic spindles of syncytial Drosophila embryos exhibit poleward microtubule flux, indicating that flux is a widely conserved property of spindles. By simultaneously imaging chromosomes (or kinetochores) and flux, we provide evidence that flux is the dominant mechanism driving chromosome-to-pole movement (anaphase A) in these spindles. At 18 degrees C and 24 degrees C, separated sister chromatids moved poleward at average rates (3.6 and 6.6 microm/min, respectively) slightly greater than the mean rates of poleward flux (3.2 and 5.2 microm/min, respectively). However, at 24 degrees C the rate of kinetochore-to-pole movement varied from slower than to twice the mean rate of flux, suggesting that although flux is the dominant mechanism, kinetochore-associated microtubule depolymerization contributes to anaphase A.

publication date

  • October 1, 2002