Spindle dynamics and the role of γ-tubulin in early Caenorhabditis elegans embryos

S. Strome, J. Powers, M. Dunn, K. Reese, C. J. Malone, J. White, G. Seydoux, W. Saxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


γ-Tubulin is a ubiquitous and highly conserved component of centrosomes in eukaryotic cells. Genetic and biochemical studies have demonstrated that γ-tubulin functions as part of a complex to nucleate microtubule polymerization from centrosomes. We show that, as in other organisms, Caenorhabditis elegans γ-tubulin is concentrated in centrosomes. To study centrosome dynamics in embryos, we generated transgenic worms that express GFP::γ-tubulin or GFP::β-tubulin in the maternal germ line and early embryos. Multiphoton microscopy of embryos produced by these worms revealed the time course of daughter centrosome appearance and growth and the differential behavior of centrosomes destined for germ line and somatic blastomeres. To study the role of γ-tubulin in nucleation and organization of spindle microtubules, we used RNA interference (RNAi) to deplete C. elegans embryos of γ-tubulin. γ-Tubulin (RNAi) embryos failed in chromosome segregation, but surprisingly, they contained extensive microtubule arrays. Moderately affected embryos contained bipolar spindles with dense and long astral microtubule arrays but with poorly organized kinetochore and interpolar microtubules. Severely affected embryos contained collapsed spindles with numerous long astral microtubules. Our results suggest that γ-tubulin is not absolutely required for microtubule nucleation in C. elegans but is required for the normal organization and function of kinetochore and interpolar microtubules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1751-1764
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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