Changing patterns of tubulin immunofluorescence as onion root meristematic cells progress from a mature pre-prophase band (PPB) stage into mitosis are reported here. The PPB reaches its narrowest profile at maturity and then remains the same width throughout the rest of the transition. Concomitant with continuation of chromatin condensation and nucleolar breakdown, both initiated earlier in pre-prophase, alignment of fluorescent fibers along the nuclear envelope (NE) changes. Perinuclear microtubules (MTs), which were parallel to the PPB or randomly arranged when first seen at earlier stages of pre-prophase, assume the orientation of spindle MTS at late preprophase. They lie close to the NE and follow the nuclear contour, ultimately converging upon two focal points directly at the NE surface. MTs also can be seen traversing the cytoplasm between nucleus and cell periphery. As spindle initiation proceeds, PPB fluorescence intensity decreases and eventually is exceeded by the NE-associated fluorescence. PPB and spindle arrays co-exist briefly in the transition period, with spindle MTs typically aligned perpendicular to both the axis of the PPB and its constituent MTs. Total disappearance of the PPB occurs only after chromosome condensation is complete and the nucleus is contained within a spherical or ellipsoid cage of fluorescent fibers comprised of two non-overlapping half-spindles. Like the fully formed prophase spindle which follows, the incipient spindle is neither barrel-shaped nor fusiform, but rather displays MTs radiating from the poles in a smooth arc.
- Pre-prophase band