LET-99 determines spindle position and is asymmetrically enriched in response to PAR polarity cues in C. elegans embryos.
Asymmetric cell division depends on coordinating the position of the mitotic spindle with the axis of cellular polarity. We provide evidence that LET-99 is a link between polarity cues and the downstream machinery that determines spindle positioning in C. elegans embryos. In let-99 one-cell embryos, the nuclear-centrosome complex exhibits a hyperactive oscillation that is dynein dependent, instead of the normal anteriorly directed migration and rotation of the nuclear-centrosome complex. Furthermore, at anaphase in let-99 embryos the spindle poles do not show the characteristic asymmetric movements typical of wild type animals. LET-99 is a DEP domain protein that is asymmetrically enriched in a band that encircles P lineage cells. The LET-99 localization pattern is dependent on PAR polarity cues and correlates with nuclear rotation and anaphase spindle pole movements in wild-type embryos, as well as with changes in these movements in par mutant embryos. In particular, LET-99 is uniformly localized in one-cell par-3 embryos at the time of nuclear rotation. Rotation fails in spherical par-3 embryos in which the eggshell has been removed, but rotation occurs normally in spherical wild-type embryos. The latter results indicate that nuclear rotation in intact par-3 embryos is dictated by the geometry of the oblong egg and are consistent with the model that the LET-99 band is important for rotation in wild-type embryos. Together, the data indicate that LET-99 acts downstream of PAR-3 and PAR-2 to determine spindle positioning, potentially through the asymmetric regulation of forces on the spindle.