Organization of interphase microtubules in fission yeast analyzed by electron tomography

Dev Cell. 2007 Mar;12(3):349-61. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2007.01.020.


Polarized cells, such as neuronal, epithelial, and fungal cells, all display a specialized organization of their microtubules (MTs). The interphase MT cytoskeleton of the rod-shaped fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, has been extensively described by fluorescence microscopy. Here, we describe a large-scale, electron tomography investigation of S. pombe, including a 3D reconstruction of a complete eukaryotic cell volume at sufficient resolution to show both how many MTs there are in a bundle and their detailed architecture. Most cytoplasmic MTs are open at one end and capped at the other, providing evidence about their polarity. Electron-dense bridges between the MTs themselves and between MTs and the nuclear envelope were frequently observed. Finally, we have investigated structure/function relationships between MTs and both mitochondria and vesicles. Our analysis shows that electron tomography of well-preserved cells is ideally suited for describing fine ultrastructural details that were not visible with previous techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / metabolism
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Interphase / physiology
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nuclear Envelope / metabolism
  • Nuclear Envelope / ultrastructure
  • Polymers / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces / metabolism*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / ultrastructure*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Polymers
  • Tubulin