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    The key role of dynein in microtubule positioning

    On February 3, 2012

    Julien Husson co-authors a Cell article that unveils how cortical dynein interacts with microtubules to generate force and position microtubule organizing centers.

    Microtubules are the thickest filaments that compose the cell’s cytoskeleton. They play major roles in controlling cell shape, establishing the cell’s polarity, guiding intracellular transport, and forming the mitotic spindle that allows the segregation of the two sets of chromosomes between the two daughter cells during mitosis. The fulfillment of these missions requires a proper spatial organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton, which often depends crucially on the precise positioning of the microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs), such as the centrosome or the nucleus. But how do MTOCs sense and adjust their position in cells?

    An article published this week in Cell, co-authored by Julien Husson, unveils the key role of cortical dynein in positioning MTOCs. The article reports in vitro experiments that show how the interaction between dynein and shrinking microtubules generates pulling forces, which contribute to precisely positioning microtubule asters in the experimental chamber. The paper is currently a featured article on the Cell website, where an interview with co-author and principal investigator Marileen Dogterom is available for a few days.

    Laan L, Pavin N, Husson J, Romet-Lemonne G, van Duijn M, Preciado López M, Vale RD, Jülicher F, Reck-Peterson SL, Dogterom M. Cortical Dynein Controls Microtubule Dynamics to Generate Pulling Forces that Position Microtubule Asters. Cell, 148(3): 502-514, 2012. DOI link.