The mitotic spindle positions the cytokinesis furrow. The cytokinesis furrow then forms and ingresses at the site of the mitotic spindle, between the spindle poles. Two populations of spindle microtubules are implicated in cytokinesis furrow positioning: radial microtubule arrays called asters and bundled non-kinetochore microtubules called the spindle midzone. Here I will discuss our recent results that provided examples of how aster-positioned and midzone-positioned cytokinesis can be mechanically and genetically separated. These experiments illustrate how asters and midzone contribute to cytokinesis. ASS (asymmetric spindle severing) is a mechanical way to spatially separate the aster and midzone signals. In Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, asters and midzone provide two consecutive signals that position the cytokinesis furrow. The first signal is positioned midway between the microtubule asters; the second signal is positioned over the spindle midzone. Aster and midzone contribution can also be genetically separated. Mutants in spd-1 have no detectable midzone and are defective in midzone-positioned but not aster-positioned cytokinesis. Disruption of the function of LET-99 and the heterotrimeric G-proteins GOA-1/GPA-16 and their regulator GPR-1/2 causes defects in aster-positioned cytokinesis but not in midzone-positioned cytokinesis. In order to understand aster-positioned cytokinesis we have to understand how microtubule asters spatially control the activity of LET-99, GPR-1/2 and GOA-1/GPA-16 and how the activity of these G-protein pathway components control the assembly of a contractile ring.

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