Dividing the spoils of growth and the cell cycle: The fission yeast as a model for the study of cytokinesis

Cytokinesis is the final stage of the cell cycle, and ensures completion of both genome segregation and organelle distribution to the daughter cells. Cytokinesis requires the cell to solve a spatial problem (to divide in the correct place, orthogonally to the plane of chromosome segregation) and a temporal problem (to coordinate cytokinesis with mitosis). Defects in the spatiotemporal control of cytokinesis may cause cell death, or increase the risk of tumor formation [Fujiwara et al., 2005 (Fujiwara T, Bandi M, Nitta M, Ivanova EV, Bronson RT, Pellman D. 2005. Cytokinesis failure generating tetraploids promotes tumorigenesis in p53-null cells. Nature 437:1043–1047); reviewed by Ganem et al., 2007 (Ganem NJ, Storchova Z, Pellman D. 2007. Tetraploidy, aneuploidy and cancer. Curr Opin Genet Dev 17:157–162.)]. Asymmetric cytokinesis, which permits the generation of two daughter cells that differ in their shape, size and properties, is important both during development, and for cellular homeostasis in multicellular organisms [reviewed by Li, 2007 (Li R. 2007. Cytokinesis in development and disease: variations on a common theme. Cell Mol Life Sci 64:3044–3058)]. The principal focus of this review will be the mechanisms of cytokinesis in the mitotic cycle of the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. This simple model has contributed significantly to our understanding of how the cell cycle is regulated, and serves as an excellent model for studying aspects of cytokinesis. Here we will discuss the state of our knowledge of how the contractile ring is assembled and disassembled, how it contracts, and what we know of the regulatory mechanisms that control these events and assure their coordination with chromosome segregation.

Related material