Dynamics of microtubule asters in microfabricated chambers: The role of catastrophes
Recent in vivo as well as in vitro experiments have indicated that microtubule pushing alone is sufficient to position a microtubuleorganizing center within a cell. Here, we investigate the effect of catastrophes on the dynamics of microtubule asters within microfabricated chambers that mimic the confining geometry of living cells. The use of a glass bead as the microtubule-organizing center allows us to manipulate the aster by using optical tweezers. In the case in which microtubules preexist, we show that because of microtubule buckling, repositioning almost never occurs after relocation with the optical tweezers, although initial microtubule growth always leads the aster to the geometrical center of the chamber. When a catastrophe promoter is added, we find instead that the aster is able to efficiently explore the chamber geometry even after being relocated with the optical tweezers. As predicted by theoretical calculations, the results of our in vitro experiments clearly demonstrate the need for catastrophes for proper positioning in a confining geometry. These findings correlate with recent observations of nuclear positioning in fission yeast cells.
Faivre-Moskalenko, C, & Dogterom, M. (2002). Dynamics of microtubule asters in microfabricated chambers: The role of catastrophes. PNAS, 99, 16788–16793.