We developed a modified immunofluorescence protocol that permitted visualization of microtubules inside the macronucleus of the ciliate Tetrahymena. Although the amitotically dividing macronucleus lacks a spindle, an elaborate system of microtubules is assembled inside the macronucleus and between the macronucleus and the cortex. Microtubules could not be detected inside the interphase macronuclei. The early stage of macronuclear division was associated with the assembly of short macronuclear microtubules that localized randomly. The intramacronuclear microtubules were subsequently organized in a radial manner. During elongation of the macronucleus, the distribution of macronuclear microtubules changed from radial to parallel. During constriction of the macronucleus, dense and tangled macronuclear microtubules were detected at the region of nuclear constriction. In the cytosol, microtubules were linking the macronucleus and cell cortex. During recovery after drug-induced depolymerization, microtubules reassembled at multiple foci inside the macronucleus in close proximity to the chromatin. We propose that these microtubules play roles in chromatin partitioning, macronuclear constriction, and positioning of the macronucleus in relation to the cell cortex.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.