An astral pulling force helps to elongate the mitotic spindle in the filamentous ascomycete, Nectria haematococca. Evidence is mounting that dynein is required for the formation of mitotic spindles and asters. Obviously, this would be an important mitotic function of dynein, since it would be a prerequisite for astral force to be applied to a spindle pole. Missing from the evidence for such a role of dynein in aster formation, however, has been a dynein mutant lacking mitotic asters. To determine whether or not cytoplasmic dynein is involved in mitotic aster formation in N. haematococca, a dynein-deficient mutant was made. Immunocytochemistry visualized few or no mitotic astral microtubules in the mutant cells, and studies of living cells confirmed the veracity of this result by revealing the absence of mitotic aster functions in vivo: intra-astral motility of membranous organelles was not apparent; the rate and extent of spindle elongation during anaphase B were reduced; and spindle pole body separation almost stopped when the anaphase B spindle in the mutant was cut by a laser microbeam, demonstrating unequivocally that no astral pulling force was present. These unique results not only provide a demonstration that cytoplasmic dynein is required for the formation of mitotic asters in N. haematococca; they also represent the first report of mitotic phenotypes in a dynein mutant of any filamentous fungus and the first cytoplasmic dynein mutant of any organism whose mitotic phenotypes demonstrate the requirement of cytoplasmic dynein for aster formation in vivo.

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