PLK-1 asymmetry contributes to asynchronous cell division of C. elegans embryos

Y. Budirahardja, P. Gonczy
2008 Development  
Acquisition of lineage-specific cell cycle duration is an important feature of metazoan development. In Caenorhabditis elegans, differences in cell cycle duration are already apparent in two-cell stage embryos, when the larger anterior blastomere AB divides before the smaller posterior blastomere P 1 . This time difference is under the control of anterior-posterior (A-P) polarity cues set by the PAR proteins. The mechanisms by which these cues regulate the cell cycle machinery differentially in
more » ... AB and P 1 are incompletely understood. Previous work established that retardation of P 1 cell division is due in part to preferential activation of an ATL-1/CHK-1 dependent checkpoint in P 1 , but how the remaining time difference is controlled is not known. Here, we establish that differential timing relies also on a mechanism that promotes mitosis onset preferentially in AB. The polo-like kinase PLK-1, a positive regulator of mitotic entry, is distributed in an asymmetric manner in two-cell stage embryos, with more protein present in AB than in P 1 . We find that PLK-1 asymmetry is regulated by A-P polarity cues through preferential protein retention in the embryo anterior. Importantly, mild inactivation of plk-1 by RNAi delays entry into mitosis in P 1 , but not in AB, in a manner that is independent of ATL-1/CHK-1. Together, our findings support a model in which differential timing of mitotic entry in C. elegans embryos relies on two complementary mechanisms: ATL-1/CHK-1-dependent preferential retardation in P 1 and PLK-1-dependent preferential promotion in AB, which together couple polarity cues and cell cycle progression during early development.
doi:10.1242/dev.019075 pmid:18305005 fatcat:pla5iry2nvcfnhrddrkuagzddq