In metazoans, γ-tubulin acts within two main complexes, γ-tubulin small complexes (γ-TuSCs) and γ-tubulin ring complexes (γ-TuRCs). In higher eukaryotes, it is assumed that microtubule nucleation at the centrosome depends on γ-TuRCs, but the role of γ-TuRC components remains undefined.
For the first time, we analyzed the function of all four γ-TuRC–specific subunits in Drosophila melanogaster: Dgrip75, Dgrip128, Dgrip163, and Dgp71WD. Grip-motif proteins, but not Dgp71WD, appear to be required for γ-TuRC assembly. Individual depletion of γ-TuRC components, in cultured cells and in vivo, induces mitotic delay and abnormal spindles. Surprisingly, γ-TuSCs are recruited to the centrosomes. These defects are less severe than those resulting from the inhibition of γ-TuSC components and do not appear critical for viability. Simultaneous cosilencing of all γ-TuRC proteins leads to stronger phenotypes and partial recruitment of γ-TuSC. In conclusion, γ-TuRCs are required for assembly of fully functional spindles, but we suggest that γ-TuSC could be targeted to the centrosomes, which is where basic microtubule assembly activities are maintained.
Microtubule assembly is initiated by the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC). In yeast, the microtubule is nucleated from γ-TuRC anchored to the amino-terminus of the spindle pole body component Spc110p, which interacts with calmodulin (Cmd1p) at the carboxy-terminus. However, mammalian protein that anchors γ-TuRC remains to be elucidated. A giant coiled-coil protein, CG-NAP (centrosome and Golgi localized PKN-associated protein), was localized to the centrosome via the carboxyl-terminal region. This region was found to interact with calmodulin by yeast two-hybrid screening, and it shares high homology with the carboxyl-terminal region of another centrosomal coiled-coil protein, kendrin. The amino-terminal region of either CG-NAP or kendrin indirectly associated with γ-tubulin through binding with γ-tubulin complex protein 2 (GCP2) and/or GCP3. Furthermore, endogenous CG-NAP and kendrin were coimmunoprecipitated with each other and with endogenous GCP2 and γ-tubulin, suggesting that CG-NAP and kendrin form complexes and interact with γ-TuRC in vivo. These proteins were localized to the center of microtubule asters nucleated from isolated centrosomes. Pretreatment of the centrosomes by antibody to CG-NAP or kendrin moderately inhibited the microtubule nucleation; moreover, the combination of these antibodies resulted in stronger inhibition. These results imply that CG-NAP and kendrin provide sites for microtubule nucleation in the mammalian centrosome by anchoring γ-TuRC.
The metazoan nuclear pore complex (NPC) disassembles during mitosis, and many of its constituents distribute onto spindles and kinetochores, including the Nup107-160 sub-complex1,2. We have found that Nup107-160 interacts with the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC), an essential and conserved microtubule (MT) nucleator3,4, and recruits γ-TuRC to unattached kinetochores. Unattached kinetochores nucleate MTs in a manner that is regulated by the Ran GTPase5; such MTs contribute to the formation of kinetochore fibers (k-fibers)6, MT bundles connecting kinetochores to spindle poles. Our data indicate that Nup107-160 and γ-TuRC act cooperatively to promote spindle assembly through MTs nucleation at kinetochores: HeLa cells lacking Nup107-160 or γ-TuRC were profoundly deficient in kinetochore-associated MT nucleation. Moreover, co-precipitated Nup107-160/γ-TuRC complexes nucleate MT formation in assays using purified tubulin. While Ran did not regulate MTs nucleation by γ-TuRC alone, Nup107-160/γ-TuRC complexes required Ran-GTP for MT nucleation. Our observations collectively show that Nup107-160 promotes spindle assembly through Ran-GTP-regulated nucleation of MT by γ-TuRC at kinetochores, and reveal a novel relationship between nucleoporins and the MT cytoskeleton.
Independently of their nucleation activity, γ-tubulin ring complex proteins localize along microtubules, limiting catastrophe events during interphase.
γ-Tubulin is critical for the initiation and regulation of microtubule (MT) assembly. In Drosophila melanogaster, it acts within two main complexes: the γ-tubulin small complex (γ-TuSC) and the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC). Proteins specific of the γ-TuRC, although nonessential for viability, are required for efficient mitotic progression. Until now, their role during interphase remained poorly understood. Using RNA interference in Drosophila S2 cells, we show that the γ-TuRC is not critical for overall MT organization. However, depletion of any component of this complex results in an increase of MT dynamics. Combined immunofluorescence and live imaging analysis allows us to reveal that the γ-TuRC localizes along interphase MTs and that distal γ-tubulin spots match with sites of pause or rescue events. We propose that, in addition to its role in nucleation, the γ-TuRC associated to MTs may regulate their dynamics by limiting catastrophes.
Microtubule nucleation is the best known function of centrosomes. Centrosomal microtubule nucleation is mediated primarily by γ tubulin ring complexes (γ TuRCs). However, little is known about the molecules that anchor these complexes to centrosomes. In this study, we show that the centrosomal coiled-coil protein pericentrin anchors γ TuRCs at spindle poles through an interaction with γ tubulin complex proteins 2 and 3 (GCP2/3). Pericentrin silencing by small interfering RNAs in somatic cells disrupted γ tubulin localization and spindle organization in mitosis but had no effect on γ tubulin localization or microtubule organization in interphase cells. Similarly, overexpression of the GCP2/3 binding domain of pericentrin disrupted the endogenous pericentrin–γ TuRC interaction and perturbed astral microtubules and spindle bipolarity. When added to Xenopus mitotic extracts, this domain uncoupled γ TuRCs from centrosomes, inhibited microtubule aster assembly, and induced rapid disassembly of preassembled asters. All phenotypes were significantly reduced in a pericentrin mutant with diminished GCP2/3 binding and were specific for mitotic centrosomal asters as we observed little effect on interphase asters or on asters assembled by the Ran-mediated centrosome-independent pathway. Additionally, pericentrin silencing or overexpression induced G2/antephase arrest followed by apoptosis in many but not all cell types. We conclude that pericentrin anchoring of γ tubulin complexes at centrosomes in mitotic cells is required for proper spindle organization and that loss of this anchoring mechanism elicits a checkpoint response that prevents mitotic entry and triggers apoptotic cell death.
To identify novel proteins important for microtubule assembly in mitosis, we have used a centrosome-based complementation assay to enrich for proteins with mitotic functions. An RNA interference (RNAi)-based screen of these proteins allowed us to uncover 13 novel mitotic regulators. We carried out in-depth analyses of one of these proteins, Pontin, which is known to have several functions in interphase, including chromatin remodeling, DNA repair, and transcription. We show that reduction of Pontin by RNAi resulted in defects in spindle assembly in Drosophila S2 cells and in several mammalian tissue culture cell lines. Further characterization of Pontin in Xenopus egg extracts demonstrates that Pontin interacts with the gamma tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC). Because depletion of Pontin leads to defects in the assembly and organization of microtubule arrays in egg extracts, our studies suggest that Pontin has a mitosis-specific function in regulating microtubule assembly.
Pericentrin and γ-tubulin are integral centrosome proteins that play a role in microtubule nucleation and organization. In this study, we examined the relationship between these proteins in the cytoplasm and at the centrosome. In extracts prepared from Xenopus eggs, the proteins were part of a large complex as demonstrated by sucrose gradient sedimentation, gel filtration and coimmunoprecipitation analysis. The pericentrin–γ-tubulin complex was distinct from the previously described γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC) as purified γ-TuRC fractions did not contain detectable pericentrin. When assembled at the centrosome, the two proteins remained in close proximity as shown by fluorescence resonance energy transfer. The three- dimensional organization of the centrosome-associated fraction of these proteins was determined using an improved immunofluorescence method. This analysis revealed a novel reticular lattice that was conserved from mammals to amphibians, and was organized independent of centrioles. The lattice changed dramatically during the cell cycle, enlarging from G1 until mitosis, then rapidly disassembling as cells exited mitosis. In cells colabeled to detect centrosomes and nucleated microtubules, lattice elements appeared to contact the minus ends of nucleated microtubules. Our results indicate that pericentrin and γ-tubulin assemble into a unique centrosome lattice that represents the higher-order organization of microtubule nucleating sites at the centrosome.
A conserved γ-tubulin complex–binding domain in CDK5RAP2 stimulates the microtubule-nucleating activity of γ-TuRC.
CDK5RAP2 is a human microcephaly protein that contains a γ-tubulin complex (γ-TuC)–binding domain conserved in Drosophila
melanogaster centrosomin and Schizosaccharomyces pombe Mto1p and Pcp1p, which are γ-TuC–tethering proteins. In this study, we show that this domain within CDK5RAP2 associates with the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC) to stimulate its microtubule-nucleating activity and is therefore referred to as the γ-TuRC–mediated nucleation activator (γ-TuNA). γ-TuNA but not its γ-TuC–binding-deficient mutant stimulates microtubule nucleation by purified γ-TuRC in vitro and induces extensive, γ-TuRC-dependent nucleation of microtubules in a microtubule regrowth assay. γ-TuRC bound to γ-TuNA contains NME7, FAM128A/B, and actin in addition to γ-tubulin and GCP2–6. RNA interference–mediated depletion of CDK5RAP2 impairs both centrosomal and acentrosomal microtubule nucleation, although γ-TuRC assembly is unaffected. Collectively, these results suggest that the γ-TuNA found in CDK5RAP2 has regulatory functions in γ-TuRC–mediated microtubule nucleation.
Although the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe contains many of the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC)-specific proteins of the γ-tubulin complex (γ-TuC), several questions about the organizational state and function of the fission yeast γ-TuC in vivo remain unresolved. Using 3×GFP-tagged γ-TuRC-specific proteins, we show here that γ-TuRC-specific proteins are present at all microtubule organizing centers in fission yeast and that association of γ-TuRC-specific proteins with the γ-tubulin small complex (γ-TuSC) does not depend on Mto1, which is a key regulator of the γ-TuC. Through sensitive imaging in mto1Δ mutants, in which cytoplasmic microtubule nucleation is abolished, we unexpectedly found that γ-TuC incapable of nucleating microtubules can nevertheless associate with microtubule minus-ends in vivo. The presence of γ-TuC at microtubule ends is independent of γ-TuRC-specific proteins and strongly correlates with the stability of microtubule ends. Strikingly, microtubule bundles lacking γ-TuC at microtubule ends undergo extensive treadmilling in vivo, apparently induced by geometrical constraints on plus-end growth. Our results indicate that microtubule stabilization by the γ-TuC, independently of its nucleation function, is important for maintaining the organization and dynamic behavior of microtubule arrays in vivo.
Fission yeast; Gamma-tubulin; Microtubules
Chromosome segregation and cell division are essential, highly ordered processes that depend on numerous protein complexes. Results from recent RNA interference (RNAi) screens indicate that the identity and composition of these protein complexes is incompletely understood. Using gene tagging on bacterial artificial chromosomes, protein localization and tandem affinity purification-mass spectrometry, the MitoCheck consortium has analyzed about 100 human protein complexes, many of which had not or only incompletely been characterized. This work has led to the discovery of previously unknown, evolutionarily conserved subunits of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C) and the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC), large complexes which are essential for spindle assembly and chromosome segregation. The approaches we describe here are generally applicable to high throughput follow-up analyses of phenotypic screens in mammalian cells.
We identified a clarified extract containing the soluble factors for microtubule assembly. We found that microtubule assembly does not require ribosomes, mitochondria, or membranes. Our clarified extracts will provide a powerful tool for activity-based biochemical fractionations for microtubule assembly.
The assembly of microtubules during mitosis requires many identified components, such as γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC), components of the Ran pathway (e.g., TPX2, HuRP, and Rae1), and XMAP215/chTOG. However, it is far from clear how these factors function together or whether more factors exist. In this study, we used biochemistry to attempt to identify active microtubule nucleation protein complexes from Xenopus meiotic egg extracts. Unexpectedly, we found both microtubule assembly and bipolar spindle assembly required glycogen, which acted both as a crowding agent and as metabolic source glucose. By also reconstituting microtubule assembly in clarified extracts, we showed microtubule assembly does not require ribosomes, mitochondria, or membranes. Our clarified extracts will provide a powerful tool for activity-based biochemical fractionations for microtubule assembly.
The chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) is a critical regulator of chromosome segregation during mitosis by correcting nonbipolar microtubule-kinetochore interactions. By severing these interactions, the CPC is thought to create unattached kinetochores that are subsequently sensed by the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) to prevent premature mitotic exit. We now show that spindle checkpoint function of the CPC and its role in eliminating nonbipolar attachments can be uncoupled. Replacing the chromosomal passenger protein INCENP with a mutant allele that lacks its coiled-coil domain results in an overt defect in a SAC-mediated mitotic arrest in response to taxol treatment, indicating that this domain is critical for CPC function in spindle checkpoint control. Surprisingly, this mutant could restore alignment and cytokinesis during unperturbed cell divisions and was capable of resolving syntelic attachments. Also, Aurora-B kinase was localized and activated normally on centromeres in these cells, ruling out a role for the coiled-coil domain in general Aurora-B activation. Thus, mere microtubule destabilization of nonbipolar attachments by the CPC is insufficient to install a checkpoint-dependent mitotic arrest, and additional, microtubule destabilization–independent CPC signaling toward the spindle assembly checkpoint is required for this arrest, potentially through amplification of the unattached kinetochore-derived checkpoint signal.
The conserved protein kinase Mps1 is required for the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). It is also involved in correction of erroneous attachments of kinetochores to the mitotic spindle before anaphase onset. Characterization of Drosophila Mps1 reveals yet another function: SAC-independent inhibition of sister chromatid separation.
Monopolar spindle 1 (Mps1) is essential for the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), which prevents anaphase onset in the presence of misaligned chromosomes. Moreover, Mps1 kinase contributes in a SAC-independent manner to the correction of erroneous initial attachments of chromosomes to the spindle. Our characterization of the Drosophila homologue reveals yet another SAC-independent role. As in yeast, modest overexpression of Drosophila Mps1 is sufficient to delay progression through mitosis during metaphase, even though chromosome congression and metaphase alignment do not appear to be affected. This delay in metaphase depends on the SAC component Mad2. Although Mps1 overexpression in mad2 mutants no longer causes a metaphase delay, it perturbs anaphase. Sister kinetochores barely move apart toward spindle poles. However, kinetochore movements can be restored experimentally by separase-independent resolution of sister chromatid cohesion. We propose therefore that Mps1 inhibits sister chromatid separation in a SAC-independent manner. Moreover, we report unexpected results concerning the requirement of Mps1 dimerization and kinase activity for its kinetochore localization in Drosophila. These findings further expand Mps1's significance for faithful mitotic chromosome segregation and emphasize the importance of its careful regulation.
Faithful chromosome segregation during mitosis depends on the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC) that monitors kinetochore attachment to the mitotic spindle. Unattached kinetochores generate mitotic checkpoint proteins complexes (MCCs) that bind and inhibit the Anaphase Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C). How the SAC proficiently inhibits the APC/C but still allows its rapid activation when the last kinetochore attaches to the spindle is important to understand how cells maintain genomic stability. We show that the APC/C subunit APC15 is required for the turnover of the APC/C co-activator Cdc20 and release of MCCs during SAC signalling but not for APC/C activity per se. In the absence of APC15, MCCs and ubiquitylated Cdc20 remain ‘locked’ onto the APC/C, which prevents the ubiquitylation and degradation of Cyclin B1 when the SAC is satisfied. We conclude that APC15 mediates the constant turnover of Cdc20 and MCCs on the APC/C to allow the SAC to respond to the attachment state of kinetochores.
Mad2 is an essential component of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), a molecular device designed to coordinate anaphase onset with the completion of chromosome attachment to the spindle. Capture of chromosome by microtubules occur on protein scaffolds known as kinetochores. The SAC proteins are recruited to kinetochores in prometaphase where they generate a signal that halts anaphase until all sister chromatid pairs are bipolarly oriented. Mad2 is a subunit of the mitotic checkpoint complex, which is regarded as the effector of the spindle checkpoint. Its function is the sequestration of Cdc20, a protein required for progression into anaphase. The function of Mad2 in the checkpoint correlates with a dramatic conformational rearrangement of the Mad2 protein. Mad2 adopts a closed conformation (C-Mad2) when bound to Cdc20, and an open conformation (O-Mad2) when unbound to this ligand. Checkpoint activation promotes the conversion of O-Mad2 to Cdc20-bound C-Mad2. We show that this conversion requires a C-Mad2 template and we identify this in Mad1-bound Mad2. In our proposition, Mad1-bound C-Mad2 recruits O-Mad2 to kinetochores, stimulating Cdc20 capture, implying that O-Mad2 and C-Mad2 form dimers. We discuss Mad2 oligomerization and link our discoveries to previous observations related to Mad2 oligomerization.
spindle checkpoint; Mad1; Mad2; Cdc20; metaphase; kinetochore
The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) mechanism is an active signal, which monitors the interaction between chromosome kinetochores and spindle microtubules to prevent anaphase onset until the chromosomes are properly connected. Cells use this mechanism to prevent aneuploidy or genomic instability, and hence cancers and other human diseases like birth defects and Alzheimer's1. A number of the SAC components such as Mad1, Mad2, Bub1, BubR1, Bub3, Mps1, Zw10, Rod and Aurora B kinase have been identified and they are all kinetochore dynamic proteins2. Evidence suggests that the kinetochore is where the SAC signal is initiated. The SAC prime regulatory target is Cdc20. Cdc20 is one of the essential APC/C (Anaphase Promoting Complex or Cyclosome) activators3 and is also a kinetochore dynamic protein4-6. When activated, the SAC inhibits the activity of the APC/C to prevent the destruction of two key substrates, cyclin B and securin, thereby preventing the metaphase to anaphase transition7,8. Exactly how the SAC signal is initiated and assembled on the kinetochores and relayed onto the APC/C to inhibit its function still remains elusive.
Drosophila is an extremely tractable experimental system; a much simpler and better-understood organism compared to the human but one that shares fundamental processes in common. It is, perhaps, one of the best organisms to use for bio-imaging studies in living cells, especially for visualization of the mitotic events in space and time, as the early embryo goes through 13 rapid nuclear division cycles synchronously (8-10 minutes for each cycle at 25 °C) and gradually organizes the nuclei in a single monolayer just underneath the cortex9.
Here, I present a bio-imaging method using transgenic Drosophila expressing GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) or its variant-targeted proteins of interest and a Leica TCS SP2 confocal laser scanning microscope system to study the SAC function in flies, by showing images of GFP fusion proteins of some of the SAC components, Cdc20 and Mad2, as the example.
Cellular Biology; Issue 64; Developmental Biology; Spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC); Mitosis; Laser scanning confocal microscopy system; Kinetochore; Drosophila melanogaster; Syncytial embryo
The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) is an important mechanism that prevents the separation of sister chromatids until the microtubules radiating from the spindle poles are correctly attached to the kinetochores. Cdc20, an activator of the Anaphase Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C), is known as a major downstream target for inhibition by the SAC through the binding of mitotic checkpoint proteins, such as Mad2 and BubR1. Here, we report that the SAC also negatively regulates the stability of Cdc20 by targeting it for proteasome-dependent degradation. Once the checkpoint is activated by spindle poisons, a major population of Cdc20 is degraded via APC/C, an event that requires the binding of Cdc20 to Mad2. We propose that the degradation of Cdc20 represents a critical control mechanism to ensure inactivation of APC/CCdc20 in response to the SAC.
Cdc20; spindle checkpoint; APC/C; Mad2; mitosis
Protein assemblies named kinetochores bind sister chromatids to the mitotic spindle and orchestrate sister chromatid segregation. Interference with kinetochore activity triggers a spindle checkpoint mediated arrest in mitosis, which frequently ends in cell death. We set out to identify small compounds that inhibit kinetochore-microtubule binding for use in kinetochore-spindle interaction studies and to develop them into novel anticancer drugs.
A fluorescence microscopy-based in vitro assay was developed to screen compound libraries for molecules that prevented the binding of a recombinant human Ndc80 kinetochore complex to taxol-stabilized microtubules. An active compound was identified that acted at the microtubule level. More specifically, by localizing to the colchicine-binding site in αβ-tubulin the hit compound prevented the Ndc80 complex from binding to the microtubule surface. Next, structure-activity analyses distinguished active regions in the compound and led to the identification of highly potent analogs that killed cancer cells with an efficacy equaling that of established spindle drugs.
The compound identified in our screen and its subsequently identified analogs represent new antitubulin chemotypes that can be synthetically developed into a novel class of antimitotic spindle drugs. In addition, they are stereochemically unique as their R- and S-isomers mimic binding of colchicine and podophyllotoxin, respectively, two antitubulin drugs that interact differently with the tubulin interface. Model-driven manipulation of our compounds promises to advance insight into how antitubulin drugs act upon tubulin. These advances in turn may lead to tailor-made colchicine site agents which would be valuable new assets to fight a variety of tumors, including those that have become resistant to the (antispindle) drugs used today.
The DNA and the spindle assembly checkpoints play key roles in maintaining genomic integrity by coordinating cell responses to DNA lesions and spindle dysfunctions, respectively. These two surveillance pathways seem to operate mostly independently of one another, and little is known about their potential physiological connections. Here, we show that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the activation of the spindle assembly checkpoint triggers phosphorylation changes in two components of the DNA checkpoint, Rad53 and Rad9. These modifications are independent of the other DNA checkpoint proteins and are abolished in spindle checkpoint-defective mutants, hinting at specific functions for Rad53 and Rad9 in the spindle damage response. Moreover, we found that after UV irradiation, Rad9 phosphorylation is altered and Rad53 inactivation is accelerated when the spindle checkpoint is activated, which suggests the implication of the spindle checkpoint in the regulation of the DNA damage response.
The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) monitors the microtubule attachment status of the kinetochore and arrests cells before anaphase until all pairs of sister kinetochores achieve bipolar attachment of microtubules, thereby ensuring faithful chromosome transmission. The evolutionarily conserved coiled-coil protein MAD1 has been implicated in the SAC signaling pathway. MAD1 forms a complex with another SAC component MAD2 and specifically localizes to unattached kinetochores to facilitate efficient binding of MAD2 to its target, CDC20, the mitotic substrate-specific activator of the anaphase promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C). Thus, MAD1 connects 2 sequential events in the SAC signaling pathway – recognition of unattached kinetochores and inhibition of APC/C activity. However, the molecular mechanisms by which it specifically localizes to unattached kinetochores are largely unknown. Studies in multicellular organisms have revealed the role of MAD1 in development and tumor suppression, but the precise time at which MAD1 activity is required is unknown. Investigation of cellular and organismic functions of MAD1 in the simple multicellular organism C. elegans identified functional interactors of MAD1 in both kinetochore-oriented SAC signaling and kinetochore-independent cell cycle regulation. Studying the function of SAC components in C. elegans provides a new molecular insight into the SAC-regulated cell cycle progression in a context of a multicellular organism.
Spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC); cell cycle; kinetochore; MAD1; C. elegans
The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) monitors the attachment of microtubules to the kinetochore and inhibits anaphase when microtubule binding is incomplete. The SAC might also respond to tension; however, how cells can sense tension and whether its detection is important to satisfy the SAC remain controversial. We generated a HeLa cell line in which two components of the kinetochore, centromere protein A and Mis12, are labeled with green and red fluorophores, respectively. Live cell imaging of these cells reveals repetitive cycles of kinetochore extension and recoiling after biorientation. Under conditions in which kinetochore stretching is suppressed, cells fail to silence the SAC and enter anaphase after a delay, regardless of centromere stretching. Monitoring cyclin B levels as a readout for anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome activity, we find that suppression of kinetochore stretching delays and decelerates cyclin B degradation. These observations suggest that the SAC monitors stretching of kinetochores rather than centromeres and that kinetochore stretching promotes silencing of the SAC signal.
The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) delays anaphase onset by inhibiting the activity of the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) until all of the kinetochores have properly attached to the spindle. The importance of SAC genes for genome stability is well established; however, the roles these genes play, during postembryonic development of a multicellular organism, remain largely unexplored.
We have used GFP fusions of 5' upstream intergenic regulatory sequences to assay spatiotemporal expression patterns of eight conserved genes implicated in the spindle assembly checkpoint function in Caenorhabditis elegans. We have shown that regulatory sequences for all of the SAC genes drive ubiquitous GFP expression during early embryonic development. However, postembryonic spatial analysis revealed distinct, tissue-specific expression of SAC genes with striking co-expression in seam cells, as well as in the gut. Additionally, we show that the absence of MDF-2/Mad2 (one of the checkpoint genes) leads to aberrant number and alignment of seam cell nuclei, defects mainly attributed to abnormal postembryonic cell proliferation. Furthermore, we show that these defects are completely rescued by fzy-1(h1983)/CDC20, suggesting that regulation of the APC/CCDC20 by the SAC component MDF-2 is important for proper postembryonic cell proliferation.
Our results indicate that SAC genes display different tissue-specific expression patterns during postembryonic development in C. elegans with significant co-expression in hypodermal seam cells and gut cells, suggesting that these genes have distinct as well as overlapping roles in postembryonic development that may or may not be related to their established roles in mitosis. Furthermore, we provide evidence, by monitoring seam cell lineage, that one of the checkpoint genes is required for proper postembryonic cell proliferation. Importantly, our research provides the first evidence that postembryonic cell division is more sensitive to SAC loss, in particular MDF-2 loss, than embryonic cell division.
The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) delays anaphase onset until kinetochores accomplish bioriented microtubule attachments . While several centromeric and kinetochore kinases, including Aurora B, regulate kinetochore-microtubule attachment and/or SAC activation [2–4], the molecular mechanism that translates bioriented attachment into SAC silencing remains unclear . Employing a method to rapidly induce exact gene replacement in budding yeast , we show here that the binding of protein phosphatase 1 (PP1/Glc7) to the evolutionarily conserved RVSF motif of the kinetochore protein Spc105 (KNL1/Blinkin/CASC5) is essential for viability by silencing the SAC, while it plays an auxiliary nonessential role for physical chromosome segregation. Although Aurora B may inhibit this binding, persistent PP1-Spc105 interaction does not affect chromosome segregation and is insufficient to silence the SAC in the absence of microtubules, indicating that dynamic regulation of this interaction is dispensable. However, the amount of PP1 targeted to kinetochores must be finely tuned, since recruitment of either none or one extra copy of PP1 to Spc105 is detrimental, illustrating the vital impact of targeting an exiguous fraction of PP1 to the kinetochore. We propose that the PP1-Spc105 interaction enables local regulation of dynamic phosphorylation and dephosphorylation at the kinetochore to couple microtubule attachment and SAC silencing.
Changes in chromosome number or structure as well as supernumerary centrosomes and multipolar mitoses are commonly observed in human tumors. Thus, centrosome amplification and mitotic checkpoint dysfunctions are believed possible causes of chromosomal instability. The Retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (RB) participates in the regulation of synchrony between DNA synthesis and centrosome duplication and it is involved in transcription regulation of some mitotic genes. Primary human fibroblasts were transfected transiently with short interfering RNA (siRNA) specific for human pRb to investigate the effects of pRb acute loss on chromosomal stability.
Acutely pRb-depleted fibroblasts showed altered expression of genes necessary for cell cycle progression, centrosome homeostasis, kinetochore and mitotic checkpoint proteins. Despite altered expression of genes involved in the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC) the checkpoint seemed to function properly in pRb-depleted fibroblasts. In particular AURORA-A and PLK1 overexpression suggested that these two genes might have a role in the observed genomic instability. However, when they were post-transcriptionally silenced in pRb-depleted fibroblasts we did not observe reduction in the number of aneuploid cells. This finding suggests that overexpression of these two genes did not contribute to genomic instability triggered by RB acute loss although it affected cell proliferation. Acutely pRb-depleted human fibroblasts showed the presence of micronuclei containing whole chromosomes besides the presence of supernumerary centrosomes and aneuploidy.
Here we show for the first time that RB acute loss triggers centrosome amplification and aneuploidy in human primary fibroblasts. Altogether, our results suggest that pRb-depleted primary human fibroblasts possess an intact spindle checkpoint and that micronuclei, likely caused by mis-attached kinetochores that in turn trigger chromosome segregation errors, are responsible for aneuploidy in primary human fibroblasts where pRb is acutely depleted.
Chromosomes are known to enhance spindle microtubule assembly in grasshopper spermatocytes, which suggested to us that chromosomes might play an essential role in the initiation of spindle formation. Chromosomes might, for example, activate other spindle components such as centrosomes and tubulin subunits upon the breakdown of the nuclear envelope. We tested this possibility in living grasshopper spermatocytes. We ruptured the nuclear envelope during prophase, which prematurely exposed the centrosomes to chromosomes and nuclear sap. Spindle assembly was promptly initiated. In contrast, assembly of the spindle was completely inhibited if the nucleus was mechanically removed from a late prophase cell. Other experiments showed that the trigger for spindle assembly is associated with the chromosomes; other constituents of the nucleus cannot initiate spindle assembly in the absence of the chromosomes. The initiation of spindle assembly required centrosomes as well as chromosomes. Extracting centrosomes from late prophase cells completely inhibited spindle assembly after dissolution of the nuclear envelope. We conclude that the normal formation of a bipolar spindle in grasshopper spermatocytes is regulated by chromosomes. A possible explanation is an activator, perhaps a chromosomal protein (Yeo, J.-P., F. Alderuccio, and B.-H. Toh. 1994a. Nature (Lond.). 367: 288-291), that promotes and stabilizes the assembly of astral microtubules and thus promotes assembly of the spindle.