Forced apart: a microtubule-based mechanism for equidistant positioning of multiple nuclei in single cells
Cells can position multiple copies of components like carboxysomes, nucleoids, and nuclei at regular intervals. By controlling positions, cells, for example, ensure equal partitioning of organelles over daughter cells and, in the case of nuclei, control cell sizes during cellularization. Mechanisms that generate regular patterns are as yet poorly understood. We used fission yeast cell cycle mutants to investigate the dispersion of multiple nuclei by microtubule-generated forces in single cells. After removing internuclear attractive forces by microtubule-based molecular motors, we observed the establishment of regular patterns of nuclei. Based on live-cell imaging, we hypothesized that microtubule growth within internuclear spaces pushes neighbouring nuclei apart. In the proposed mechanism, which was validated by stochastic simulations, the repulsive force weakens with increasing separation because stochastic shortening events limit the extent over which microtubules generate forces. Our results, therefore, demonstrate how cells can exploit the dynamics of microtubule growth for the equidistant positioning of organelles.