During asymmetric cell divisions, mitotic spindles align along the axis of polarization. In invertebrates, spindle positioning requires Pins or related proteins and a G protein α subunit. A mammalian Pins, called LGN, binds Gαi and also interacts through an N-terminal domain with the microtubule binding protein NuMA. During mitosis, LGN recruits NuMA to the cell cortex, while cortical association of LGN itself requires the C-terminal Gα binding domain. Using a FRET biosensor, we find that LGN behaves as a conformational switch: in its closed state, the N and C termini interact, but NuMA or Gαi can disrupt this association, allowing LGN to interact simultaneously with both proteins, resulting in their cortical localization. Overexpression of Gαi or YFP-LGN causes a pronounced oscillation of metaphase spindles, and NuMA binding to LGN is required for these spindle movements. We propose that a related switch mechanism might operate in asymmetric cell divisions in the fly and nematode.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)