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J Cell Sci. 2012 Jun 15;125(Pt 12):2805-14. doi: 10.1242/jcs.092429. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

Microtubule assembly during mitosis - from distinct origins to distinct functions?

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  • 1Microtubule Function and Cell Division group, Cell and Developmental Biology Program, Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and UPF, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.


The mitotic spindle is structurally and functionally defined by its main component, the microtubules (MTs). The MTs making up the spindle have various functions, organization and dynamics: astral MTs emanate from the centrosome and reach the cell cortex, and thus have a major role in spindle positioning; interpolar MTs are the main constituent of the spindle and are key for the establishment of spindle bipolarity, chromosome congression and central spindle assembly; and kinetochore-fibers are MT bundles that connect the kinetochores with the spindle poles and segregate the sister chromatids during anaphase. The duplicated centrosomes were long thought to be the origin of all of these MTs. However, in the last decade, a number of studies have contributed to the identification of non-centrosomal pathways that drive MT assembly in dividing cells. These pathways are now known to be essential for successful spindle assembly and to participate in various processes such as K-fiber formation and central spindle assembly. In this Commentary, we review the recent advances in the field and discuss how different MT assembly pathways might cooperate to successfully form the mitotic spindle.

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