Identification and characterization of factors required for microtubule growth and nucleation in the early C. elegans embryo

Dev Cell. 2005 Aug;9(2):223-36. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2005.07.003.


Microtubules (MTs) are dynamic polymers that undergo cell cycle and position-sensitive regulation of polymerization and depolymerization. Although many different factors that regulate MT dynamics have been described, to date there has been no systematic analysis of genes required for MT dynamics in a single system. Here, we use a transgenic EB1::GFP strain, which labels the growing plus ends of MTs, to analyze the growth rate, nucleation rate, and distribution of growing MTs in the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. We also present the results from an RNAi screen of 40 genes previously implicated in MT-based processes. Our findings suggest that fast microtubule growth is dependent on the amount of free tubulin and the ZYG-9-TAC-1 complex. Robust MT nucleation by centrosomes requires AIR-1, SPD-2, SPD-5, and gamma-tubulin. However, we found that centrosomes do not nucleate MTs to saturation; rather, the depolymerizing kinesin-13 subfamily member KLP-7 is required to limit microtubule outgrowth from centrosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • Centromere / physiology
  • Dyneins / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Kinesin / metabolism
  • Kinetochores / physiology
  • Metaphase
  • Microtubule-Organizing Center / physiology*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Mitosis
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • ZYG-9 protein, C elegans
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Dyneins
  • Kinesin