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The Journal of cell biology

Robust gap repair in the contractile ring ensures timely completion of cytokinesis.


PMID 27974482

Abstract

Cytokinesis in animal cells requires the constriction of an actomyosin contractile ring, whose architecture and mechanism remain poorly understood. We use laser microsurgery to explore the biophysical properties of constricting rings in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Laser cutting causes rings to snap open. However, instead of disintegrating, ring topology recovers and constriction proceeds. In response to severing, a finite gap forms and is repaired by recruitment of new material in an actin polymerization-dependent manner. An open ring is able to constrict, and rings repair from successive cuts. After gap repair, an increase in constriction velocity allows cytokinesis to complete at the same time as controls. Our analysis demonstrates that tension in the ring increases while net cortical tension at the site of ingression decreases throughout constriction and suggests that cytokinesis is accomplished by contractile modules that assemble and contract autonomously, enabling local repair of the actomyosin network. Consequently, cytokinesis is a highly robust process impervious to discontinuities in contractile ring structure.

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