Recent data have uncovered that spindle size asymmetry (SSA) is a key component of asymmetric cell division (ACD) in the mouse cerebral cortex (Delaunay et al., 2014). In the present study we show that SSA is independent of spindle orientation and also occurs during cortical progenitor divisions in the ventricular zone (VZ) of the macaque cerebral cortex, pointing to a conserved mechanism in the mammalian lineage. Because SSA magnitude is smaller in cortical precursors than in invertebrate neuroblasts, the unambiguous demonstration of volume differences between the two half spindles is considered to require 3D reconstruction of the mitotic spindle (Delaunay et al., 2014). Although straightforward, the 3D analysis of SSA is time consuming, which is likely to hinder SSA identification and prevent further explorations of SSA related mechanisms in generating ACD. We therefore set out to develop an alternative method for accurately measuring spindle asymmetry. Based on the mathematically demonstrated linear relationship between 2D and 3D analysis, we show that 2D assessment of spindle size in metaphase cells is as accurate and reliable as 3D reconstruction provided a specific procedure is applied. We have examined the experimental accuracy of the two methods by applying them to different sets of in vivo and in vitro biological data, including mouse and primate cortical precursors. Linear regression analysis demonstrates that the results from 2D and 3D reconstructions are equally powerful. We therefore provide a reliable and efficient technique to measure SSA in mammalian cells.
Keywords: asymmetric cell division; cerebral cortex; corticogenesis; mouse; primate.