Kinetochores are complex macromolecular assemblies that link chromosomes to the mitotic spindle, mediate forces for chromosome motion, and generate the checkpoint signal delaying anaphase onset until all chromosomes are incorporated into the spindle. Proper execution of these functions depends on precise interactions between kinetochores and microtubules. While the molecular composition of the kinetochore is well described, structural organization of this organelle at the molecular and atomic levels is just beginning to emerge. Recent structural studies across scales suggest that kinetochores should not be viewed as rigid static scaffolds. Instead, these organelles exhibit a surprising degree of flexibility that enables rapid adaptations to various types of interactions with the mitotic spindle.
The assembly of a functional mitotic spindle is essential for cell reproduction and requires a precise coordination between the nuclear cycle and the centrosome. This coordination is particularly prominent in organisms that undergo closed mitosis where centrosomes must not only respond to temporal signals, but also to spatial considerations, e.g. switching from the production of cytoplasmic microtubule arrays to the generation of dynamic intra-nuclear microtubules required for spindle assembly. We utilize a gene knockout of Kif9, a Dictyostelium discoideum Kin-I kinesin, to destabilize the physical association between centrosomes and the nuclear envelope. This approach presents a unique opportunity to reveal temporal and spatial components in the regulation of centrosomal activities in a closed-mitosis organism. Here we report that centrosome–nuclear engagement is not required for the entry into mitosis. Although detached centrosomes can duplicate in the cytoplasm, neither they nor nuclei alone can produce spindle-like microtubule arrays. However, the physical association of centrosomes and the nuclear envelope is required to progress through mitosis beyond prometaphase.
Centrosome; Nucleus; Closed mitosis; Dictyostelium
Error-free chromosome segregation requires stable attachment of sister kinetochores to the opposite spindle poles (amphitelic attachment). Exactly how amphitelic attachments are achieved during spindle assembly remains elusive. We employed photoactivatable GFP and high-resolution live-cell confocal microscopy to visualize for the first time complete 3-D movements of individual kinetochores throughout mitosis in non-transformed human cells. Combined with electron microscopy, molecular perturbations, and immunofluorescence analyses, this approach reveals unexpected new details of chromosome behavior. Our data demonstrate that unstable lateral interactions between kinetochores and microtubules dominate during early prometaphase. These transient interactions lead to the reproducible arrangement of chromosomes in an equatorial ring on the surface of the nascent spindle. A computational model predicts that this toroidal distribution of chromosomes exposes kinetochores to a high-density of microtubules which facilitates subsequent formation of amphitelic attachments. Thus, spindle formation involves a previously overlooked stage of chromosome prepositioning which promotes formation of amphitelic attachments.
mitosis; spindle assembly; chromosome congression; kinetochore
Using computational modeling and laser microsurgery, we establish that neither the centrosomal microtubule array nor the Golgi-derived array is solely sufficient for correct Golgi assembly. Only the concerted effort of both MT arrays results in the integral, polarized Golgi complex necessary for polarized trafficking and cell motility.
Assembly of an integral Golgi complex is driven by microtubule (MT)-dependent transport. Conversely, the Golgi itself functions as an unconventional MT-organizing center (MTOC). This raises the question of whether Golgi assembly requires centrosomal MTs or can be self-organized, relying on its own MTOC activity. The computational model presented here predicts that each MT population is capable of gathering Golgi stacks but not of establishing Golgi complex integrity or polarity. In contrast, the concerted effort of two MT populations would assemble an integral, polarized Golgi complex. Indeed, while laser ablation of the centrosome did not alter already-formed Golgi complexes, acentrosomal cells fail to reassemble an integral complex upon nocodazole washout. Moreover, polarity of post-Golgi trafficking was compromised under these conditions, leading to strong deficiency in polarized cell migration. Our data indicate that centrosomal MTs complement Golgi self-organization for proper Golgi assembly and motile-cell polarization.
Supernumerary centrioles lead to abnormal mitosis [1,2] which in turn promotes tumorigenesis [3,4]. Thus, centriole duplication must be coordinated with the cell cycle to ensure that the number of centrioles in the cell doubles precisely during each cell cycle . However, in some transformed cells centrioles undergo multiple rounds of duplication (reduplication) during prolonged interphase [6-8]. Mechanisms responsible for centriole reduplication are poorly understood. Here, we report that centrioles reduplicate consistently in cancerous and non-transformed human cells during G2 arrests and this reduplication requires the activity of Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1). We also find that cell’s ability to reduplicate centrioles during S-arrests depends on the presence of activated (T210-phosphorylated) Plk1 at the centrosome. In the absence of activated Plk1, nascent procentrioles remain associated with mother centrioles, which prevent centriole reduplication. In contrast, if Plk1(pT210) appears at the centrosome, procentrioles mature, disengage from mother centrioles, and ultimately duplicate. Plk1 activity is not required for the assembly of procentrioles, however. Thus, the role of Plk1 is to coordinate centriole duplication cycle with the cell cycle. Activation of Plk1 during late-S-G2 induces procentriole maturation and after this point the centriole cycle can be completed autonomously, even in the absence of cell cycle progression.
In preparation for mitosis, the centrosome doubles once and only once to provide the two poles of the mitotic spindle. The presence of more than two centrosomes increases the chances that mitosis will be multipolar, and chromosomes will be distributed unequally. Since the number of mother–daughter centriole pairs determines the number of centrosomes, it is important that only one daughter centriole is assembled at, but slightly separated from, the proximal end of each mother centriole. This numerical and spatial specificity has led to the belief that a ‘template’ on the mother centriole provides a unique site for procentriole assembly. We review observations that are leading to the demise of this intuitively attractive idea. In its place, we are left with the notion that pericentriolar material at the wall of the mother centriole provides a local environment that promotes the assembly of a macromolecular complex that seeds the daughter centriole. Even though the system normally behaves in a digital fashion to go from zero to just one daughter centriole per mother, this behaviour appears to be based in the precise analogue control of multiple proteins, their activities, and the structure provided by the mother centriole.
cell cycle; centriole; centrosome; duplication; singularity; template
It has been proposed that the spindle assembly checkpoint detects both unattached kinetochores and lack of tension between sister kinetochores when sister chromatids are not attached to opposite spindle poles. However, here we argue that there is only one signal — whether kinetochores are attached to microtubules or not — and this has implications for our understanding of both chromosome segregation and the control of genomic stability.
The objective of mitosis is to provide a copy of the genome to each progeny of a cell division. This requires the separation of duplicate chromatids by the spindle apparatus, and the delivery of one set of chromosomes to each of the daughter cells. In budding yeast, the fidelity of chromosome delivery depends on the spindle position checkpoint, which prolongs mitosis until one end of the anaphase spindle arrives in the bud. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the activity of the spindle position checkpoint depends on persistent interactions between cytoplasmic microtubules and the mother-bud neck, the future site of cytokinesis. We used laser ablation to disrupt microtubule interactions with the bud neck, and we found that loss of microtubules from the neck leads to mitotic exit in a majority of checkpoint-activated cells. Our findings suggest that cytoplasmic microtubules are used to monitor the location of the spindle in the dividing cell, and in the event of positioning errors, relay a signal to inhibit mitotic exit until the spindle is appropriately positioned.
The centrosome is the principal microtubule organizing center (MTOC) of animal cells . Accurate centrosome duplication is fundamental for genome integrity and entails the formation of one procentriole next to each existing centriole, once per cell cycle. The procentriole then elongates to eventually reach the same size as that of the centriole. The mechanisms that govern elongation of the centriolar cylinder and their potential relevance for cell division are not known. Here, we show that the SAS-4-related protein CPAP  is required for centrosome duplication in cycling human cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that CPAP overexpression results in the formation of abnormal long centrioles. This also promotes formation of more than one procentriole in the vicinity of such overly long centrioles, eventually resulting in the presence of supernumerary MTOCs. This in turn leads to multipolar spindle assembly and cytokinesis defects. Overall, our findings suggest that centriole length must be carefully regulated to restrict procentriole number and thus ensure accurate cell division.
For over a century, scientists have strived to understand the mechanisms that govern the accurate segregation of chromosomes during mitosis. The most intriguing feature of this process, which is particularly prominent in higher eukaryotes, is the complex behaviour exhibited by the chromosomes. This behaviour is based on specific and highly regulated interactions between the chromosomes and spindle microtubules. Recent discoveries, enabled by high-resolution imaging combined with the various genetic, molecular, cell biological and chemical tools, support the idea that establishing and controlling the dynamic interaction between chromosomes and microtubules is a major factor in genomic fidelity.
Intricate interactions between kinetochores and microtubules are essential for the proper distribution of chromosomes during mitosis. A crucial long-standing question is how vertebrate kinetochores generate chromosome motion while maintaining attachments to the dynamic plus ends of the multiple kinetochore MTs (kMTs) in a kinetochore fibre. Here, we demonstrate that individual kMTs in PtK1 cells are attached to the kinetochore outer plate by several fibres that either embed the microtubule plus-end tips in a radial mesh, or extend out from the outer plate to bind microtubule walls. The extended fibres also interact with the walls of nearby microtubules that are not part of the kinetochore fibre. These structural data, in combination with other recent reports, support a network model of kMT attachment wherein the fibrous network in the unbound outer plate, including the Hec1–Ndc80 complex, dissociates and rearranges to form kMT attachments.
Proper chromosome congression (the process of aligning chromosomes on the spindle) contributes to accurate and faithful chromosome segregation. It is widely accepted that congression requires ‘K-fibres’, microtubule bundles that extend from the kinetochores to spindle poles1, 2. Here we demonstrate that chromosomes in human cells co-depleted for HSET (kinesin-14)3, 4 and hNuf2 (a component of the Ndc80/Hec1 complex)5 can congress to the metaphase plate in the absence of K-fibres. However, the chromosomes were not stably maintained at the metaphase plate under these conditions. Chromosome congression in HSET+hNuf2 co-depleted cells required the plus-end directed motor CENP-E (kinesin-7)6, which has been implicated in the gliding of mono-oriented kinetochores alongside adjacent K-fibres7. Thus, proper end-on attachment of kinetochores to microtubules is not necessary for chromosome congression. Instead, our data support the idea that congression allows unattached chromosomes to move to the middle of the spindle where they have a higher probability of establishing connections with both spindle poles. These bi-oriented connections are also utilized to maintain stable chromosome alignment at the spindle equator.
Chromosome congression; Kinetochore; K-fibre; Kinesin-14; hNuf2; HSET; CENP-E
Recent studies reveal that the precise regulation of microtubule dynamics is essential for an error-free mitosis. Kinetochore microtubule attachments that are too stable increase the rate of chromosome mis-segregation, a leading cause of chromosomal instability in tumors.
The concept of checkpoint controls revolutionized our understanding of the cell cycle. Here we revisit the defining features of checkpoints and argue that failure to properly appreciate the concept is leading to misinterpretation of experimental results. We illustrate, using the mitotic checkpoint, problems that can arise from a failure to respect strict definitions and precise terminology.
It's the kinetochores, not the DNA, that initiate spindle assembly.
During mitosis and meiosis in animal cells, chromosomes actively participate in spindle assembly by generating a gradient of Ran guanosine triphosphate (RanGTP). A high concentration of RanGTP promotes microtubule nucleation and stabilization in the vicinity of chromatin. However, the relative contributions of chromosome arms and centromeres/kinetochores in this process are not known. In this study, we address this issue using cells undergoing mitosis with unreplicated genomes (MUG). During MUG, chromatin is rapidly separated from the forming spindle, and both centrosomal and noncentrosomal spindle assembly pathways are active. MUG chromatin is coated with RCC1 and establishes a RanGTP gradient. However, a robust spindle forms around kinetochores/centromeres outside of the gradient peak. When stable kinetochore microtubule attachment is prevented by Nuf2 depletion in both MUG and normal mitosis, chromatin attracts astral microtubules but cannot induce spindle assembly. These results support a model in which kinetochores play the dominant role in the chromosome-mediated pathway of mitotic spindle assembly.
The centrosome, an organelle comprising centrioles and associated pericentriolar material, is the major microtubule organizing center in animal cells. For the cell to form a bipolar mitotic spindle and ensure proper chromosome segregation at the end of each cell cycle, it is paramount that the cell contains two and only two centrosomes. Because the number of centrosomes in the cell is determined by the number of centrioles, cells have evolved elaborate mechanisms to control centriole biogenesis and to tightly coordinate this process with DNA replication. Here we review key proteins involved in centriole assembly, compare two major modes of centriole biogenesis, and discuss the mechanisms that ensure stringency of centriole number.
centriole; centrosome; duplication; de novo
Centrin has been shown to be involved in centrosome biogenesis in a variety of eukaryotes. In this study, we characterize hPOC5, a conserved centrin-binding protein that contains Sfi1p-like repeats. hPOC5 is localized, like centrin, in the distal portion of human centrioles. hPOC5 recruitment to procentrioles occurs during G2/M, a process that continues up to the full maturation of the centriole during the next cell cycle and is correlated with hyperphosphorylation of the protein. In the absence of hPOC5, RPE1 cells arrest in G1 phase, whereas HeLa cells show an extended S phase followed by cell death. We show that hPOC5 is not required for the initiation of procentriole assembly but is essential for building the distal half of centrioles. Interestingly, the hPOC5 family reveals an evolutionary divergence between vertebrates and organisms like Drosophila melanogaster or Caenorhabditis elegans, in which the loss of hPOC5 may correlate with the conspicuous differences in centriolar structure.
Proper organization of microtubule arrays is essential for intracellular trafficking and cell motility. It is generally assumed that most if not all microtubules in vertebrate somatic cells are formed by the centrosome. Here we demonstrate that a large number of microtubules in untreated human cells originate from the Golgi apparatus in a centrosome-independent manner. Both centrosomal and Golgi-emanating microtubules need γ-tubulin for nucleation. Additionally, formation of microtubules at the Golgi requires CLASPs, microtubule-binding proteins that selectively coat non-centrosomal microtubule seeds. We show that CLASPs are recruited to trans-Golgi network (TGN) at the Golgi periphery by the TGN protein GCC185. In sharp contrast to radial centrosomal arrays, microtubules nucleated at the peripheral Golgi compartment are preferentially oriented toward the leading edge in motile cells. We propose that Golgi–emanating microtubules contribute to the asymmetric microtubule networks in polarized cells and support diverse processes including post-Golgi transport to the cell front.
The accuracy of chromosome segregation is enhanced by the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). The SAC is thought to monitor two distinct events: attachment of kinetochores to microtubules and the stretch of the centromere between the sister kinetochores that arises only when the chromosome becomes properly bioriented. We examined human cells undergoing mitosis with unreplicated genomes (MUG). Kinetochores in these cells are not paired, which implies that the centromere cannot be stretched; however, cells progress through mitosis. A SAC is present during MUG as cells arrest in response to nocodazole, taxol, or monastrol treatments. Mad2 is recruited to unattached MUG kinetochores and released upon their attachment. In contrast, BubR1 remains on attached kinetochores and exhibits a level of phosphorylation consistent with the inability of MUG spindles to establish normal levels of centromere tension. Thus, kinetochore attachment to microtubules is sufficient to satisfy the SAC even in the absence of interkinetochore tension.
Centrosome amplification is a common feature of many cancer cells, and it has been previously proposed that centrosome amplification can drive genetic instability and so tumorigenesis. To test this hypothesis, we generated Drosophila lines that have extra centrosomes in ~60% of their somatic cells. Many cells with extra centrosomes initially form multipolar spindles, but these spindles ultimately become bipolar. This requires a delay in mitosis that is mediated by the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). As a result of this delay, there is no dramatic increase in genetic instability in flies with extra centrosomes, and these flies maintain a stable diploid genome over many generations. The asymmetric division of the larval neural stem cells, however, is compromised in the presence of extra centrosomes, and larval brain cells with extra centrosomes can generate metastatic tumors when transplanted into the abdomens of wild-type hosts. Thus, centrosome amplification can initiate tumorigenesis in flies.
Although the centrosome is traditionally viewed as cell’s principle microtubule organizing center (MTOC), regulation of microtubule dynamics at the cell cortex plays an equally important role in the formation of the steady-state microtubule network. Several recent studies, including one published in this issue, reveal that complex signaling mechanisms associated with adherence junctions influence both microtubule nucleation at the centrosome, and the stability of non-centrosomal microtubules.
Centrosome duplication involves the formation of a single procentriole next to each centriole, once per cell cycle. The mechanisms governing procentriole formation and those restricting its occurrence to one event per centriole are poorly understood. Here, we show that HsSAS-6 is necessary for procentriole formation and that it localizes asymmetrically next to the centriole at the onset of procentriole formation. HsSAS-6 levels oscillate during the cell cycle, with the protein being degraded in mitosis and starting to accumulate again at the end of the following G1. Our findings indicate that APCCdh1 targets HsSAS-6 for degradation by the 26S proteasome. Importantly, we demonstrate that increased HsSAS-6 levels promote formation of more than one procentriole per centriole. Therefore, regulated HsSAS-6 levels normally ensure that each centriole seeds the formation of a single procentriole per cell cycle, thus playing a fundamental role in driving the centrosome duplication cycle and ensuring genome integrity.
The motion of a chromosome during mitosis is mediated by a bundle of microtubules, termed a kinetochore fibre (K-fibre), which connects the kinetochore of the chromosome to a spindle pole. Once formed, mature K-fibres maintain a steady state length because the continuous addition of microtubule subunits onto microtubule plus ends at the kinetochore is balanced by their removal at their minus ends within the pole. This condition is known as ‘microtubule poleward flux’1. Chromosome motion and changes in position are then driven by changes in K-fibre length, which in turn are controlled by changes in the rates at which microtubule subunits are added at the kinetochore and/or removed from the pole2. A key to understanding the role of flux in mitosis is to identify the molecular factors that drive it. Here we use Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells expressing α-tubulin tagged with green fluorescent protein, RNA interference, laser microsurgery and photobleaching to show that the kinetochore protein MAST/Orbit — the single CLASP orthologue in Drosophila — is an essential component for microtubule subunit incorporation into fluxing K-fibres.
We detail some of the pitfalls encountered when following live cultured somatic cells by light microscopy during mitosis. Principle difficulties in this methodology arise from the necessity to compromise between maintaining the health of the cell while achieving the appropriate temporal and spatial resolutions required for the study. Although the quality of the data collected from fixed cells is restricted only by the quality of the imaging system and the optical properties of the specimen, the major limiting factor when viewing live cells is radiation damage induced during illumination. We discuss practical considerations for minimizing this damage, and for maintaining the general health of the cell, while it is being followed by multi-mode or multi-dimensional light microscopy.
Müller et al. (Reports, 27 October 2006, p. 654) showed that inhibition of the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC) activates the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), which led them to suggest that γ-TuRC proteins play molecular roles in SAC activation. Because γ-TuRC inhibition leads to pleiotropic spindle defects, which are well known to activate kinetochore-derived checkpoint signaling, we believe that this conclusion is premature.