Interkinetic nuclear migration: A mysterious process in search of a function


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During interkinetic nuclear migration (INM), the nuclei in many epithelial cells migrate between the apical and basal surfaces, coordinating with the cell cycle, and undergoing cytokinesis at the apical surface. INM is observed in a wide variety of tissues and species. Recent advances in time-lapse microscopy have provided clues about the mechanisms and functions of INM. Whether actin or microtubules are responsible for nuclear migration is controversial. How mitosis is initiated during INM is poorly understood, as is the relationship between the cell cycle and nuclear movement. It is possible that the disagreements stem from differences in the tissues being studied, since epithelia undergoing INM vary greatly in terms of cell height and cell fates. In this review we examine the reports addressing the mode and mechanisms that regulate INM and suggest possible functions for this dramatic event.