Non-random distribution of vacuoles in Schizosaccharomyces pombe
A central question in eukaryotic cell biology asks, during cell division, how is the growth and distribution of organelles regulated to ensure each daughter cell receives an appropriate amount. For vacuoles in budding yeast, there are well described organelle-to-cell size scaling trends as well as inheritance mechanisms involving highly coordinated movements. It is unclear whether such mechanisms are necessary in the symmetrically dividing fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, in which random partitioning may be utilized to distribute vacuoles to daughter cells. To address the increasing need for high-throughput analysis, we are augmenting existing semi-automated image processing by developing fully automated machine learning methods for locating vacuoles and segmenting fission yeast cells from brightfield and fluorescence micrographs. All strains studied show qualitative correlations in vacuole-to-cell size scaling trends, i.e. vacuole volume, surface area, and number all increase with cell size. Furthermore, increasing vacuole number was found to be a consistent mechanism for the increase in total vacuole size in the cell. Vacuoles are not distributed evenly throughout the cell with respect to available cytoplasm. Rather, vacuoles show distinct peaks in distribution close to the nucleus, and this preferential localization was confirmed in mutants in which nucleus position is perturbed. Disruption of microtubules leads to quantitative changes in both vacuole size scaling trends and distribution patterns, indicating the microtubule cytoskeleton is a key mechanism for maintaining vacuole structure.