Heterotrimeric G proteins regulate daughter cell size asymmetry in Drosophila neuroblast divisions

Naoyuki Fuse, Kanako Hisata, Alisa L. Katzen, Fumio Matsuzaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Cell division often generates unequally sized daughter cells by off-center cleavages, which are due to either displacement of mitotic spindles or their asymmetry. Drosophila neuroblasts predominantly use the latter mechanism to divide into a large apical neuroblast and a small basal ganglion mother cell (GMC), where the neural fate determinants segregate. Apically localized components regulate both the spindle asymmetry and the localization of the determinants. Here, we show that asymmetric spindle formation depends on signaling mediated by the Gβ subunit of heterotrimeric G proteins. Gβ13F distributes throughout the neuroblast cortex. Its lack induces a large symmetric spindle and causes division into nearly equal-sized cells with normal segregation of the determinants. In contrast, elevated Gβ13F activity generates a small spindle, suggesting that this factor suppresses spindle development. Depletion of the apical components also results in the formation of a small symmetric spindle at metaphase. Therefore, the apical components and Gβ13F affect the mitotic spindle shape oppositely. We propose that differential activation of Gβ signaling biases spindle development within neuroblasts and thereby causes asymmetric spindles. Furthermore, the multiple equal cleavages of Gβ mutant neuroblasts accompany neural defects; this finding suggests indispensable roles of eccentric division in assuring the stem cell properties of neuroblasts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-954
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003 May 27
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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