The cell cycle of the marine centric diatom Stephanopyxis turris consists of a series of spatially and temporally well-ordered events. We have used immunofluorescence microscopy to examine the role of cytoplasmic microtubules in these events. At interphase, microtubules radiate out from the microtubule-organizing center, forming a network around the nucleus and extending much of the length and breadth of the cell. As the cell enters mitosis, this network breaks down and a highly ordered mitotic spindle is formed. Peripheral microtubule bundles radiate out from each spindle pole and swing out and away from the central spindle during anaphase. Treatment of synchronized cells with 2.5 X 10(-8) M Nocodazole reversibly inhibited nuclear migration concurrent with the disappearance of the extensive cytoplasmic microtubule arrays associated with migrating nuclei. Microtubule arrays and mitotic spindles that reformed after the drug was washed out appeared normal. In contrast, cells treated with 5.0 X 10(-8) M Nocodazole were not able to complete nuclear migration after the drug was washed out and the mitotic spindles that formed were multipolar. Normal and multipolar spindles that were displaced toward one end of the cell by the drug treatment had no effect on the plane of division during cytokinesis. The cleavage furrow always bisected the cell regardless of the position of the mitotic spindle, resulting in binucleate/anucleate daughter cells. This suggests that in S. turris, unlike animal cells, the location of the plane of division is cortically determined before mitosis.

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