Positioning of the mitotic spindle through the interaction of astral microtubules with the cell boundary often determines whether the cell division will be symmetric or asymmetric. This process plays a crucial role in development. In this paper, a numerical model is presented that deals with the force exerted on the spindle by astral microtubules that are bent by virtue of their confinement within the cell boundary. It is found that depending on parameters, the symmetric position of the spindle can be stable or unstable. Asymmetric stable equilibria also exist, and two or more stable positions can exist simultaneously. The theory poses new types of questions for experimental research. Regarding the cases of symmetric spindle positioning, it is necessary to ask whether the microtubule parameters are controlled by the cell so that the bending mechanics favors symmetry. If they are not, then it is necessary to ask what forces external to the microtubule cytoskeleton counteract the bending effects sufficiently to actively establish symmetry. Conversely, regarding the cases with asymmetry, it is now necessary to investigate whether the cell controls the microtubule parameters so that the bending favors asymmetry apart from any forces that are external to the microtubule cytoskeleton. © 2012 Ivan V. Maly.
Maly, I. V. (2012). Equilibria of idealized confined astral microtubules and coupled spindle poles. PLoS ONE, 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0038921