Astral microtubules

Astral Microtubules

Astral microtubules

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Astral microtubules are a subpopulation of microtubules, which only exist during and immediately before mitosis. They are defined as any microtubule originating from the centrosome which does not connect to a kinetochore. Astral microtubules develop in the actin skeleton and interact with the cell cortex to aid in spindle orientation. They are organized into radial arrays around the centrosomes. The turn-over rate of this population of microtubules is higher than any other population.

The role of astral microtubules is assisted by dyneins specific to this role. These dyneins have their light chains (static portion) attached to the cell membrane, and their globular parts (dynamic portions) attached to the microtubules. The globular chains attempt to move towards the centrosome, but seeing as they are bound to the cell membrane, this results in pulling the centrosomes towards the membrane, thus assisting cytokinesis.

Astral microtubules are not required for the progression of mitosis, but they are required to ensure the fidelity of the process. The functions of astral microtubules can be generally considered as determination of cell geometry. It is absolutely required for correct positioning and orientation of mitotic spindle apparatus. It is also involved in determination of cell division site based on the geometry and polarity of the cells.

The maintenance of astral...
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