Background: Both symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions are required for the generation of appropriate cell lineages during development. Wild-type Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells divide in a symmetric fashion to produce two similar rod-shaped daughter cells. Formins are proteins with conserved roles in cell polarity, cytokinesis, and the regulation of actin and microtubule cytoskeletons.
Results: Here, we identify and characterize a new S. pombe formin, for3p. for3 Delta mutant cells divide in an asymmetric manner; a mother cell divides medially to produce one daughter cell that develops into a monopolar cell and one daughter that develops into a bipolar cell. Both daughter cells recapitulate similar asymmetric lineages themselves. Inheritance of the bipolar pattern correlates with inheritance of the recent birth scar, not with asymmetry in the spindle pole bodies. for3 Delta mutants lack interphase actin cables and have delocalized actin patch and myo52p (type V myosin) distributions. for3 Delta cells have normal microtubule dynamics and cortical interactions but have defects in microtubule organization and increased numbers of microtubule bundles. for3p-GFP is localized at both cell tips in an actin-dependent manner and at the cell division site.
Conclusions: for3p is a cell polarity factor required for interphase actin cable formation and microtubule organization. The for3 Delta phenotype suggests that cells are able to grow in a polarized manner even in the absence of functional actin cables and polarized distribution of actin patches. for3p and possibly actin cables are part of a regulatory network that ensures that cell divisions are symmetric.