Experimental cell research

A novel immunofluorescence method to visualize microtubules in the antiparallel overlaps of microtubule-plus ends in the anaphase and telophase midzone.

PMID 28942021


Cell division, in which duplicated chromosomes are separated into two daughter cells, is the most dynamic event during cell proliferation. Chromosome movement is powered mainly by microtubules, which vary in morphology and are organized into characteristic structures according to mitotic progression. During the later stages of mitosis, antiparallel microtubules form the spindle midzone, and the irregular formation of the midzone often leads to failure of cytokinesis, giving rise to the unequal segregation of chromosomes. However, it is difficult to analyze the morphology of these microtubules because microtubules in the antiparallel overlaps of microtubule-plus ends in the midzone are embedded in highly electron-dense matrices, impeding the access of anti-tubulin antibodies to their epitopes during immunofluorescence staining. Here, we developed a novel method to visualize selectively antiparallel microtubule overlaps in the midzone. When cells are air-dried before fixation, aligned α-tubulin staining is observed and colocalized with PRC1 in the center of the midzone of anaphase and telophase cells, suggesting that antiparallel microtubule overlaps can be visualized by this method. In air-dried cells, mCherry-α-tubulin fluorescence and β-tubulin staining show almost the same pattern as α-tubulin staining in the midzone, suggesting that the selective visualization of antiparallel microtubule overlaps in air-dried cells is not attributed to an alteration of the antigenicity of α-tubulin. Taxol treatment extends the microtubule filaments of the midzone in air-dried cells, and nocodazole treatment conversely decreases the number of microtubules, suggesting that unstable microtubules are depolymerized during the air-drying method. It is of note that the air-drying method enables the detection of the disruption of the midzone and premature midzone formation upon Aurora B and Plk1 inhibition, respectively. These results suggest that the air-drying method is suitable for visualizing microtubules in the antiparallel overlaps of microtubule-plus ends of the midzone and for detecting their effects on midzone formation.