In vitro systems for the study of microtubule-based cell polarity in fission yeast
Establishment of cell polarity is essential for processes such as growth and division. In fission yeast, as well as other species, polarity factors travel at the ends of microtubules to cortical sites where they associate with the membrane and subsequently maintain a polarized activity pattern despite their ability to diffuse in the membrane. In this chapter we present methods to establish an in vitro system that captures the essential features of this process. This bottom-up approach allows us to identify the minimal molecular requirements for microtubule-based cell polarity. We employ microfabrication techniques combined with surface functionalization to create rigid chambers with affinity for proteins, as well as microfluidic techniques to create and shape emulsion droplets with functionalized lipid boundaries. Preliminary results are shown demonstrating that a properly organized microtubule cytoskeleton can be confined to these confined spaces, and proteins traveling at the ends of growing microtubules can be delivered to their boundaries.