First-author publication for Jeanne Jodoin (Laura Lee Lab)

An article entitled Human Asunder promotes dynein recruitment and centrosomal tethering to the nucleus at mitotic entry was published in the October 24 issue of Molecular Biology of the Cell. Congratulations JJ!


Recruitment of dynein motors to the nuclear surface is an essential step for nucleus-centrosome coupling in prophase. In cultured human cells, this dynein pool is anchored to nuclear pore complexes through RanBP2-BICD2 and Nup133-CENP-F networks. We previously reported that the asunder (asun) gene is required in Drosophila spermatocytes for perinuclear dynein localization and nucleus-centrosome coupling at G2/M of male meiosis. We show herein that male germline expression of mammalian Asunder (ASUN) protein rescues asun flies, demonstrating evolutionary conservation of function. In cultured human cells, we find that ASUN down-regulation causes reduction of perinuclear dynein in prophase of mitosis. Additional defects following loss of ASUN include nucleus-centrosome uncoupling, abnormal spindles, and multinucleation. Co-immunoprecipitation and overlapping localization patterns of ASUN and LIS1, a dynein adaptor, suggest that ASUN interacts with dynein in the cytoplasm via LIS1. Our data indicate that ASUN controls dynein localization via a mechanism distinct from that of either BICD2 or CENP-F. We present a model in which ASUN promotes perinuclear enrichment of dynein at G2/M that facilitates BICD2- and CENP-F-mediated anchoring of dynein to nuclear pore complexes.

First-author publication for Poojitha Sitaram (Laurie Lee Lab)

An article entitled Regulation of dynein localization and centrosome positioning by Lis-1 and asunder during Drosophila spermatogenesis was published in the August issue of Development. Congratulations Pooji!


Dynein, a microtubule motor complex, plays crucial roles in cell-cycle progression in many systems. The LIS1 accessory protein directly binds dynein, although its precise role in regulating dynein remains unclear. Mutation of human LIS1 causes lissencephaly, a developmental brain disorder. To gain insight into the in vivo functions of LIS1, we characterized a male-sterile allele of the Drosophila homolog of human LIS1. We found that centrosomes do not properly detach from the cell cortex at the onset of meiosis in most Lis-1 spermatocytes; centrosomes that do break cortical associations fail to attach to the nucleus. In Lis-1 spermatids, we observed loss of attachments between the nucleus, basal body and mitochondria. The localization pattern of LIS-1 protein throughout Drosophila spermatogenesis mirrors that of dynein. We show that dynein recruitment to the nuclear surface and spindle poles is severely reduced in Lis-1 male germ cells. We propose that Lis-1 spermatogenesis phenotypes are due to loss of dynein regulation, as we observed similar phenotypes in flies null for Tctex-1, a dynein light chain. We have previously identified asunder (asun) as another regulator of dynein localization and centrosome positioning during Drosophila spermatogenesis. We now report that Lis-1 is a strong dominant enhancer of asun and that localization of LIS-1 in male germ cells is ASUN dependent. We found that Drosophila LIS-1 and ASUN colocalize and coimmunoprecipitate from transfected cells, suggesting that they function within a common complex. We present a model in which Lis-1 and asun cooperate to regulate dynein localization and centrosome positioning during Drosophila spermatogenesis.

Two new Ph.D. candidates!

Congratulation Jeanne and Kenyi on passing your qualifying exam!!!

Nice job!!

New Ph.D. candidates

Congratulations Poojitha and Sarah on passing your qualifying exams!!

Great job!!

Now you “can finally get back to the fun part of the Ph.D.-experiments!!!!”®

First-author publication for Michael Anderson (Laura Lee Lab)

Asunder is a critical regulator of dynein-dynactin localization during Drosophila spermatogenesis.

asun spermatocytes and spermatids exhibit reduced Dynein-Dynactin compared to wild type

asun spermatocytes and spermatids exhibit reduced Dynein-Dynactin compared to wild type.

Spermatogenesis uses mitotic and meiotic cell cycles coordinated with growth and differentiation programs to generate functional sperm. Our analysis of a Drosophila mutant has revealed that asunder (asun), which encodes a conserved protein, is an essential regulator of spermatogenesis. asun spermatocytes arrest during prophase of meiosis I. Strikingly, arrested spermatocytes contain free centrosomes that fail to stably associate with the nucleus. Spermatocytes that overcome arrest exhibit severe defects in meiotic spindle assembly, chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis. Furthermore, the centriole-derived basal body is detached from the nucleus in asun postmeiotic spermatids, resulting in abnormalities later in spermatogenesis. We find that asun spermatocytes and spermatids exhibit drastic reduction of perinuclear dynein-dynactin, a microtubule motor complex. We propose a model in which asun coordinates spermatogenesis by promoting dynein-dynactin recruitment to the nuclear surface, a poorly understood process required for nucleus-centrosome coupling at M phase entry and fidelity of meiotic divisions.

Cover article in Feb 1, 2009 issue of Development from Julie Merkle (Laura Lee Lab)

The article, “no poles encodes a predicted E3 ubiquitin ligase required for early embryonic development of Drosophila,” was also featured in Development’s In This Issue section (only available with subscription). Julie found that syncytial embryos derived from no poles (nopo) mutant females undergo mitotic arrest with aberrant spindles, and these defects are due to triggering of the Centrosome Inactivation Pathway, a Chk2-mediated response to DNA damage or incomplete replication. She further showed that NOPO interacts with Bendless, an E2 Ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, and embryos derived from bendless females undergo a nopo-like mitotic arrest during the syncytial divisions.