The adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) tumour suppressor is best known as a Wnt signalling regulator, but it also plays cytoskeletal roles, including during mitosis. APC mutant cells show enhanced chromosomal instability, while in early Drosophila embryos undergoing syncytial mitoses, APC2 mutants show enhanced ‘nuclear fallout’ - whereby nuclei that have undergone defective division are removed from the cortex. To understand the mechanisms underlying the mitotic function of APC, Mark Peifer and colleagues (p. 4226) have analysed the mitotic defects in APC2 mutant Drosophila embryos in detail. Their data suggest that APC2 is not essential for mitosis, but does promote mitotic fidelity. The primary consequence of APC2 loss appears to be a defect in centrosome separation; when this fails, the mitotic spindle can still form, but ectopic cleavage furrows appear and disrupt chromosome segregation. Moreover, the APC-binding partner Axin is also involved in this process. These data suggest a key role for APC family proteins in promoting centrosome separation during mitosis; this may also be relevant for its tumour suppressor activity.
- © 2013. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd