Background: Cytoplasmic dynein complex is a large multi-subunit microtubule (MT)-associated molecular motor involved in various cellular functions including organelle positioning, vesicle transport and cell division. However, regulatory mechanism of the cell-cycle dependent distribution of dynein has not fully been understood.
Methodology/principal findings: Here we report live-cell imaging of cytoplasmic dynein in HeLa cells, by expressing multifunctional green fluorescent protein (mfGFP)-tagged 74-kDa intermediate chain (IC74). IC74-mfGFP was successfully incorporated into functional dynein complex. In interphase, dynein moved bi-directionally along with MTs, which might carry cargos such as transport vesicles. A substantial fraction of dynein moved toward cell periphery together with EB1, a member of MT plus end-tracking proteins (+TIPs), suggesting +TIPs-mediated transport of dynein. In late-interphase and prophase, dynein was localized at the centrosomes and the radial MT array. In prometaphase and metaphase, dynein was localized at spindle MTs where it frequently moved from spindle poles toward chromosomes or cell cortex. +TIPs may be involved in the transport of spindle dyneins. Possible kinetochore and cortical dyneins were also observed.
Conclusions and significance: These findings suggest that cytoplasmic dynein is transported to the site of action in preparation for the following cellular events, primarily by the MT-based transport. The MT-based transport may have greater advantage than simple diffusion of soluble dynein in rapid and efficient transport of the limited concentration of the protein.