The early stages of development involve complex sequences of morphological changes that are both reproducible from embryo to embryo and often robust to environmental variability. To investigate the relationship between reproducibility and robustness we examined cell cycle progression in early Drosophila embryos at different temperatures. Our experiments show that while the subdivision of cell cycle steps is conserved across a wide range of temperatures (5–35 °C), the relative duration of individual steps varies with temperature. We find that the transition into prometaphase is delayed at lower temperatures relative to other cell cycle events, arguing that it has a different mechanism of regulation. Using an in vivo biosensor, we quantified the ratio of activities of the major mitotic kinase, Cdk1 and one of the major mitotic phosphatases PP1. Comparing activation profile with cell cycle transition times at different temperatures indicates that in early fly embryos activation of Cdk1 drives entry into prometaphase but is not required for earlier cell cycle events. In fact, chromosome condensation can still occur when Cdk1 activity is inhibited pharmacologically. These results demonstrate that different kinases are rate-limiting for different steps of mitosis, arguing that robust inter-regulation may be needed for rapid and ordered mitosis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology
- Arrhenius dependence
- Cell cycle regulation
- Regulation of biological networks