Rotokinesis, a novel phenomenon of cell locomotion-assisted cytokinesis in the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila

Cell Biol Int. 1999;23(12):841-8. doi: 10.1006/cbir.1999.0480.


The mechanism responsible for final cell separation at the end of cytokinesis is currently unknown. Knockout strains of the ciliate, Tetrahymena thermophila lacking the kinesin-II homologous molecular motors, Kin1p and Kin2p are paralyzed due to their complete loss of cilia and undergo frequent cytokinesis failures. Observations of live dividing cells revealed that cleavage furrow ingression is normal in kinesin-II double knockout cells until the final stage of cell separation (Brown et al., 1999). During closer inspection of dividing cells using video differential interference contrast microscopy, we found that wild-type cells undergo an extremely complex motile behavior near the end of cytokinesis. This process, which we have named rotokinesis, appears to facilitate the physical separation of daughter cells. Here we present recent work on Tetrahymena rotokinesis, and review studies in other organisms which suggest that the use of cell locomotion in the completion of cytokinesis is a general phenomenon of motile cell types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Kinesins
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Muscle Proteins / genetics
  • Muscle Proteins / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • Tetrahymena thermophila / cytology
  • Tetrahymena thermophila / genetics
  • Tetrahymena thermophila / physiology*


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • kinesin-II
  • Kinesins