Birefringence of the mitotic apparatus (MA) and its change during mitosis in sea urchin eggs were quantitatively determined using the birefringence detection apparatus reported in the preceding paper (Hiramoto el al., 1981, J. Cell Biol. 89:115-120). The birefringence and the form of the MA are represented by five parameters: peak retardation (delta p), through retardation (delta t), interpolar distance (D1), the distance (D2) between chromosome groups moving toward poles, and the distance (D3) between two retardation peaks. Distributions of birefringence retardation and the coefficient of birefringence in the spindle were quantitatively determined in MAs isolated during metaphase and anaphase. The distribution of microtubules (MTs) contained in the spindle is attributable to the form birefringence caused by regularly arranged MTs. The distribution coincided fairly well with the distribution of MTs in isolated MAs determined by electron microscopy. Under the same assumption, the distribution of MTS in the spindle in living cells during mitosis was determined. The results show that the distribution of MTs and the total amount of polymerized tubulin (MTs) in the spindle change during mitosis, suggesting the assembly and disassembly of MTs as well as the dislocation of MTs during mitosis.

This content is only available as a PDF.