The EMBO journal

Regulation of interkinetic nuclear migration by cell cycle-coupled active and passive mechanisms in the developing brain.

PMID 21441895


A hallmark of neurogenesis in the vertebrate brain is the apical-basal nuclear oscillation in polarized neural progenitor cells. Known as interkinetic nuclear migration (INM), these movements are synchronized with the cell cycle such that nuclei move basally during G1-phase and apically during G2-phase. However, it is unknown how the direction of movement and the cell cycle are tightly coupled. Here, we show that INM proceeds through the cell cycle-dependent linkage of cell-autonomous and non-autonomous mechanisms. During S to G2 progression, the microtubule-associated protein Tpx2 redistributes from the nucleus to the apical process, and promotes nuclear migration during G2-phase by altering microtubule organization. Thus, Tpx2 links cell-cycle progression and autonomous apical nuclear migration. In contrast, in vivo observations of implanted microbeads, acute S-phase arrest of surrounding cells and computational modelling suggest that the basal migration of G1-phase nuclei depends on a displacement effect by G2-phase nuclei migrating apically. Our model for INM explains how the dynamics of neural progenitors harmonize their extensive proliferation with the epithelial architecture in the developing brain.