Nuclei in syncytia found in fungi, muscles, and tumors can behave independently despite cytoplasmic translation and the homogenizing potential of diffusion. We use a dynactin mutant strain of the multinucleate fungus Ashbya gossypii with highly clustered nuclei to assess the relative contributions of nucleus and cytoplasm to nuclear autonomy. Remarkably, clustered nuclei maintain cell cycle and transcriptional autonomy; therefore some sources of nuclear independence function even with minimal cytosol insulating nuclei. In both nuclear clusters and among evenly spaced nuclei, a nucleus' transcriptional activity dictates local cytoplasmic contents, as assessed by the localization of several cyclin mRNAs. Thus nuclear activity is a central determinant of the local cytoplasm in syncytia. Of note, we found that the number of nuclei per unit cytoplasm was identical in the mutant to that in wild-type cells, despite clustered nuclei. This work demonstrates that nuclei maintain autonomy at a submicrometer scale and simultaneously maintain a normal nucleocytoplasmic ratio across a syncytium up to the centimeter scale.
© 2016 Dundon et al. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).