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1.  Intrakinetochore stretch is associated with changes in kinetochore phosphorylation and spindle assembly checkpoint activity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;184(3):373-381.
Cells have evolved a signaling pathway called the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) to increase the fidelity of chromosome segregation by generating a “wait anaphase” signal until all chromosomes are properly aligned within the mitotic spindle. It has been proposed that tension generated by the stretch of the centromeric chromatin of bioriented chromosomes stabilizes kinetochore microtubule attachments and turns off SAC activity. Although biorientation clearly causes stretching of the centromeric chromatin, it is unclear whether the kinetochore is also stretched. To test whether intrakinetochore stretch occurs and is involved in SAC regulation, we developed a Drosophila melanogaster S2 cell line expressing centromere identifier–mCherry and Ndc80–green fluorescent protein to mark the inner and outer kinetochore domains, respectively. We observed stretching within kinetochores of bioriented chromosomes by monitoring both inter- and intrakinetochore distances in live cell assays. This intrakinetochore stretch is largely independent of a 30-fold variation in centromere stretch. Furthermore, loss of intrakinetochore stretch is associated with enhancement of 3F3/2 phosphorylation and SAC activation.
PMCID: PMC2646557  PMID: 19193623
2.  Regional variation of microtubule flux reveals microtubule organization in the metaphase meiotic spindle 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;182(4):631-639.
Continuous poleward movement of tubulin is a hallmark of metaphase spindle dynamics in higher eukaryotic cells and is essential for stable spindle architecture and reliable chromosome segregation. We use quantitative fluorescent speckle microscopy to map with high resolution the spatial organization of microtubule flux in Xenopus laevis egg extract meiotic spindles. We find that the flux velocity decreases near spindle poles by ∼20%. The regional variation is independent of functional kinetochores and centrosomes and is suppressed by inhibition of dynein/dynactin, kinesin-5, or both. Statistical analysis reveals that tubulin flows in two distinct velocity modes. We propose an association of these modes with two architecturally distinct yet spatially overlapping and dynamically cross-linked arrays of microtubules: focused polar microtubule arrays of a uniform polarity and slower flux velocities are interconnected by a dense barrel-like microtubule array of antiparallel polarities and faster flux velocities.
PMCID: PMC2518697  PMID: 18710922
3.  Directly probing the mechanical properties of the spindle and its matrix 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;188(4):481-489.
The spindle matrix does not make a significant mechanical contribution to metaphase spindle length.
Several recent models for spindle length regulation propose an elastic pole to pole spindle matrix that is sufficiently strong to bear or antagonize forces generated by microtubules and microtubule motors. We tested this hypothesis using microneedles to skewer metaphase spindles in Xenopus laevis egg extracts. Microneedle tips inserted into a spindle just outside the metaphase plate resulted in spindle movement along the interpolar axis at a velocity slightly slower than microtubule poleward flux, bringing the nearest pole toward the needle. Spindle velocity decreased near the pole, which often split apart slowly, eventually letting the spindle move completely off the needle. When two needles were inserted on either side of the metaphase plate and rapidly moved apart, there was minimal spindle deformation until they reached the poles. In contrast, needle separation in the equatorial direction rapidly increased spindle width as constant length spindle fibers pulled the poles together. These observations indicate that an isotropic spindle matrix does not make a significant mechanical contribution to metaphase spindle length determination.
PMCID: PMC2828919  PMID: 20176922
4.  Spindle Assembly in the Absence of a RanGTP Gradient Requires Localized CPC Activity 
Current biology : CB  2009;19(14):1210-1215.
During animal cell division, a gradient of GTP-bound Ran is generated around mitotic chromatin [1, 2]. It is generally accepted that this RanGTP gradient is essential for organizing the spindle since it locally activates critical spindle assembly factors [3–5]. Here, we show in Xenopus egg extract, where the gradient is best characterized, that spindles can assemble in the absence of a RanGTP gradient. Gradient-free spindle assembly occurred around sperm nuclei but not around chromatin-coated beads and required the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC). Artificial enrichment of CPC activity within hybrid bead arrays containing both immobilized chromatin and the CPC supported local microtubule assembly even in the absence of a RanGTP gradient. We conclude that RanGTP and the CPC constitute the two major molecular signals that spatially promote microtubule polymerization around chromatin. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the two signals mainly originate from discreet physical sites on the chromosomes to localize microtubule assembly around chromatin: a RanGTP signal from any chromatin, and a CPC-dependent signal predominantly generated from centromeric chromatin.
PMCID: PMC2752711  PMID: 19540121
5.  Molecular architecture of a kinetochore–microtubule attachment site 
Nature cell biology  2006;8(6):581-585.
Kinetochore attachment to spindle microtubule plus-ends is necessary for accurate chromosome segregation during cell division in all eukaryotes. The centromeric DNA of each chromosome is linked to microtubule plus-ends by eight structural-protein complexes1–9. Knowing the copy number of each of these complexes at one kinetochore–microtubule attachment site is necessary to understand the molecular architecture of the complex, and to elucidate the mechanisms underlying kinetochore function. We have counted, with molecular accuracy, the number of structural protein complexes in a single kinetochore–microtubule attachment using quantitative fluorescence microscopy of GFP-tagged kinetochore proteins in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We find that relative to the two Cse4p molecules in the centromeric histone1, the copy number ranges from one or two for inner kinetochore proteins such as Mif2p2, to 16 for the DAM–DASH complex8,9 at the kinetochore–microtubule interface. These counts allow us to visualize the overall arrangement of a kinetochore–microtubule attachment. As most of the budding yeast kinetochore proteins have homologues in higher eukaryotes, including humans, this molecular arrangement is likely to be replicated in more complex kinetochores that have multiple microtubule attachments.
PMCID: PMC2867088  PMID: 16715078
6.  Synchronizing chromosome segregation by flux-dependent force equalization at kinetochores 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;186(1):11-26.
The synchronous movement of chromosomes during anaphase ensures their correct inheritance in every cell division. This reflects the uniformity of spindle forces acting on chromosomes and their simultaneous entry into anaphase. Although anaphase onset is controlled by the spindle assembly checkpoint, it remains unknown how spindle forces are uniformly distributed among different chromosomes. In this paper, we show that tension uniformity at metaphase kinetochores and subsequent anaphase synchrony in Drosophila S2 cells are promoted by spindle microtubule flux. These results can be explained by a mechanical model of the spindle where microtubule poleward translocation events associated with flux reflect relaxation of the kinetochore–microtubule interface, which accounts for the redistribution and convergence of kinetochore tensions in a timescale comparable to typical metaphase duration. As predicted by the model, experimental acceleration of mitosis precludes tension equalization and anaphase synchrony. We propose that flux-dependent equalization of kinetochore tensions ensures a timely and uniform maturation of kinetochore–microtubule interfaces necessary for error-free and coordinated segregation of chromosomes in anaphase.
PMCID: PMC2712998  PMID: 19581410
7.  Chromosome congression by kinesin-5 motor-mediated disassembly of longer kinetochore microtubules 
Cell  2008;135(5):894-906.
During mitosis, sister chromatids congress to the spindle equator and are subsequently segregated via attachment to dynamic kinetochore microtubule (kMT) plus-ends. A major question is how kMT plus-end assembly is spatially regulated to achieve chromosome congression. Here we find in budding yeast that the widely-conserved kinesin-5 sliding motor proteins, Cin8p and Kip1p, mediate chromosome congression by suppressing kMT plus-end assembly of longer kMTs. Of the two, Cin8p is the major effector and its activity requires a functional motor domain. In contrast, the depolymerizing kinesin-8 motor Kip3p plays a minor role in spatial regulation of yeast kMT assembly. Our analysis identified a model where kinesin-5 motors bind to kMTs, move to kMT plus ends, and upon arrival at a growing plus-end promote net kMT plus-end disassembly. In conclusion, we find that length-dependent control of net kMT assembly by kinesin-5 motors yields a simple and stable self-organizing mechanism for chromosome congression.
PMCID: PMC2683758  PMID: 19041752
8.  Functional Overlap of Microtubule Assembly Factors in Chromatin-Promoted Spindle Assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(11):2766-2773.
Distinct pathways from centrosomes and chromatin are thought to contribute in parallel to microtubule nucleation and stabilization during animal cell mitotic spindle assembly, but their full mechanisms are not known. We investigated the function of three proposed nucleation/stabilization factors, TPX2, γ-tubulin and XMAP215, in chromatin-promoted assembly of anastral spindles in Xenopus laevis egg extract. In addition to conventional depletion-add back experiments, we tested whether factors could substitute for each other, indicative of functional redundancy. All three factors were required for microtubule polymerization and bipolar spindle assembly around chromatin beads. Depletion of TPX2 was partially rescued by the addition of excess XMAP215 or EB1, or inhibiting MCAK (a Kinesin-13). Depletion of either γ-tubulin or XMAP215 was partially rescued by adding back XMAP215, but not by adding any of the other factors. These data reveal functional redundancy between specific assembly factors in the chromatin pathway, suggesting individual proteins or pathways commonly viewed to be essential may not have entirely unique functions.
PMCID: PMC2688555  PMID: 19369413
9.  Condensin Regulates the Stiffness of Vertebrate Centromeres 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(9):2371-2380.
When chromosomes are aligned and bioriented at metaphase, the elastic stretch of centromeric chromatin opposes pulling forces exerted on sister kinetochores by the mitotic spindle. Here we show that condensin ATPase activity is an important regulator of centromere stiffness and function. Condensin depletion decreases the stiffness of centromeric chromatin by 50% when pulling forces are applied to kinetochores. However, condensin is dispensable for the normal level of compaction (rest length) of centromeres, which probably depends on other factors that control higher-order chromatin folding. Kinetochores also do not require condensin for their structure or motility. Loss of stiffness caused by condensin-depletion produces abnormal uncoordinated sister kinetochore movements, leads to an increase in Mad2(+) kinetochores near the metaphase plate and delays anaphase onset.
PMCID: PMC2675617  PMID: 19261808
10.  Comment on “A Centrosome-Independent Role for γ-TuRC Proteins in the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint” 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;316(5827):982.
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.
PMCID: PMC2590763  PMID: 17510347
11.  Direct observation of microtubule dynamics at kinetochores in Xenopus extract spindles 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;162(3):377-382.
Microtubule plus ends dynamically attach to kinetochores on mitotic chromosomes. We directly imaged this dynamic interface using high resolution fluorescent speckle microscopy and direct labeling of kinetochores in Xenopus extract spindles. During metaphase, kinetochores were stationary and under tension while plus end polymerization and poleward microtubule flux (flux) occurred at velocities varying from 1.5–2.5 μm/min. Because kinetochore microtubules polymerize at metaphase kinetochores, the primary source of kinetochore tension must be the spindle forces that produce flux and not a kinetochore-based mechanism. We infer that the kinetochore resists translocation of kinetochore microtubules through their attachment sites, and that the polymerization state of the kinetochore acts a “slip-clutch” mechanism that prevents detachment at high tension. At anaphase onset, kinetochores switched to depolymerization of microtubule plus ends, resulting in chromosome-to-pole rates transiently greater than flux. Kinetochores switched from persistent depolymerization to persistent polymerization and back again during anaphase, bistability exhibited by kinetochores in vertebrate tissue cells. These results provide the most complete description of spindle microtubule poleward flux to date, with important implications for the microtubule–kinetochore interface and for how flux regulates kinetochore function.
PMCID: PMC2172681  PMID: 12900391
kinetochore; fluorescent speckle microscopy; mitosis; centromere; anaphase
12.  Spindle Formation in Aspergillus Is Coupled to Tubulin Movement into the NucleusV⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(5):2192-2200.
In many important organisms, including many algae and most fungi, the nuclear envelope does not disassemble during mitosis. This fact raises the possibility that mitotic onset and/or exit might be regulated, in part, by movement of important mitotic proteins into and out of the nucleoplasm. We have used two methods to determine whether tubulin levels in the nucleoplasm are regulated in the fungus Aspergillus nidulans. First, we have used benomyl to disassemble microtubules and create a pool of free tubulin that can be readily observed by immunofluorescence. We find that tubulin is substantially excluded from interphase nuclei, but is present in mitotic nuclei. Second, we have observed a green fluorescent protein/α-tubulin fusion in living cells by time-lapse spinning-disk confocal microscopy. We find that tubulin is excluded from interphase nuclei, enters the nucleus seconds before the mitotic spindle begins to form, and is removed from the nucleoplasm during the M-to-G1 transition. Our data indicate that regulation of intranuclear tubulin levels plays an important, perhaps essential, role in the control of mitotic spindle formation in A. nidulans. They suggest that regulation of protein movement into the nucleoplasm may be important for regulating mitotic onset in organisms with intranuclear mitosis.
PMCID: PMC165107  PMID: 12802085
13.  Force Generation by Microtubule Assembly/Disassembly in Mitosis and Related Movements 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1995;6(12):1619-1640.
In this article, we review the dynamic nature of the filaments (microtubules) that make up the labile fibers of the mitotic spindle and asters, we discuss the roles that assembly and disassembly of microtubules play in mitosis, and we consider how such assembling and disassembling polymer filaments can generate forces that are utilized by the living cell in mitosis and related movements.
PMCID: PMC301321  PMID: 8590794

Results 1-13 (13)