The commonly recognized mechanisms for spatial regulation inside the cell are membrane-bounded compartmentalization and biochemical association with subcellular organelles. We use computational modeling to investigate another spatial regulation mechanism mediated by the microtubule network in the cell. Our results demonstrate that the mitotic spindle can impose strong sequestration and concentration effects on molecules with binding affinity for microtubules, especially dynein-directed cargoes. The model can recapitulate the essence of three experimental observations on distinct microtubule network morphologies: the sequestration of germ plasm components by the mitotic spindles in the Drosophila syncytial embryo, the asymmetric cell division initiated by the time delay in centrosome maturation in the Drosophila neuroblast, and the diffusional block between neighboring energids in the Drosophila syncytial embryo. Our model thus suggests that the cell cycle-dependent changes in the microtubule network are critical for achieving different spatial regulation effects. The microtubule network provides a spatially extensive docking platform for molecules and gives rise to a "structured cytoplasm", in contrast to a free and fluid environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)