In metazoans, cytokinesis is triggered by activation of the GTPase RhoA at the equatorial plasma membrane. ECT-2, the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) required for RhoA activation, is activated by the centralspindlin complex that concentrates on spindle midzone microtubules. However, these microtubules and the plasma membrane are not generally in apposition, and thus the mechanism by which RhoA is activated at the cell equator remains unknown. Here we report that a regulated pool of membrane-bound, oligomeric centralspindlin stimulates RhoA activation. The membrane-binding C1 domain of CYK-4, a centralspindlin component, promotes furrow initiation in C. elegans embryos and human cells. Membrane localization of centralspindlin oligomers is globally inhibited by PAR-5/14-3-3. This activity is antagonized by the chromosome passenger complex (CPC), resulting in RhoA activation at the nascent cleavage site. Therefore, CPC-directed centralspindlin oligomerization during anaphase induces contractile ring assembly at the membrane.
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