Center for Biomedical Research

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Brad Roth, Director

Mi Hye Song and her students publish in PLoS Genetics

Mi Hye Song and her students publish in PLoS Genetics
Cell division
Images of cell division using immunofluorescence
and confocal microscopy. From Stubenvol et al.
(PLoS Genetics, Volume 12, Article Number e1006370,

Assistant Professor Mi Hye Song, of the Department of Biological Sciences, and her team of students published an article this week in PLoS Genetics describing how ATX-2, the C. elegans ortholog of human ataxin-2, regulates centrosome size and microtubule dynamics (Volume 12, Article Number e1006370). First author is Michael Stubenvoll, a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD program. Coauthors include graduate student Jeffrey Medley, and former undergraduate student Miranda Irwin. The paper includes stunning images of centrosome assembly obtained using immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy.

The author summary is given below:

The microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton undergoes dynamic rearrangements during the cell cycle. As the primary microtubule-organizing center, centrosomes orchestrate MT dynamics and play a key role in establishing bipolar spindles in mitosis. Errors in centrosome assembly lead to missegregation of genomic content and aneuploidy. Thus, stringent regulation of centrosome assembly is of vital importance for the fidelity of cell division and survival. Using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) as a model, we study the role of the RNA-binding protein, ATX-2, a C. elegans homolog of Human Ataxin-2 in early cell division. A number of RNAs and RNA-binding proteins are shown to be associated with centrosomes and MTs, and influence the assembly of mitotic spindles. In C. elegans, the RNA-binding role of SZY-20 is implicated in regulating centrosome size. We show that ATX-2 functions together with SZY-20 in centrosome size and MT behavior. SZY-20 promotes ATX-2 protein levels, and the amount of ATX-2 influences centrosome size and subsequent MT dynamics. Our work provides evidence that RNA-binding proteins have an active role in controlling MT dynamics.

PLoS Genetics is an open access journal, so anyone can read this paper for free at:

This research was supported by Song’s grant R15GM11016 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health.