Background: During anaphase in budding yeast, dynein inserts the mitotic spindle across the neck between mother and daughter cells. The mechanism of dynein-dependent spindle positioning is thought to involve recruitment of dynein to the cell cortex followed by capture of astral microtubules (aMTs).
Results: We report the native-level localization of the dynein heavy chain and characterize the effects of mutations in dynein regulators on its intracellular distribution. Budding yeast dynein displays discontinuous localization along aMTs, with enrichment at the spindle pole body and aMT plus ends. Loss of Bik1p (CLIP-170), the cargo binding domain of Bik1p, or Pac1p (LIS1) resulted in diminished targeting of dynein to aMTs. By contrast, loss of dynactin or a mutation in the second P loop domain of dynein resulted in an accumulation of dynein on the plus ends of aMTs. Unexpectedly, loss of Num1p, a proposed dynein cortical anchor, also resulted in selective accumulation of dynein on the plus ends of anaphase aMTs.
Conclusions: We propose that, rather than first being recruited to the cell cortex, dynein is delivered to the cortex on the plus ends of polymerizing aMTs. Dynein may then undergo Num1p-dependent activation and transfer to the region of cortical contact. Based on the similar effects of loss of Num1p and loss of dynactin on dynein localization, we suggest that Num1p might also enhance dynein motor activity or processivity, perhaps by clustering dynein motors.