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Bioessays. 1999 Dec;21(12):985-90.

Dr. Dolittle and the making of the mitotic spindle.

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1
University of Edinburgh, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, Michael Swann Building, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, UK. margarete.heck@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

The intrinsic polarity of microtubules within cells is exploited each time cells divide. Kinesins, microtubule-associated motor proteins, are required to execute the dramatic events of mitosis: bipolar spindle assembly, metaphase chromosome alignment, anaphase chromosome segregation, and separation of spindle poles prior to cytokinesis. Surprisingly, kinesin-related proteins have been found to move in either "plus-ward" or "minus-ward" directions along microtubules. Evidence from genetic analyses of simple eukaryotes and in vitro activity assays supports the notion that certain subfamilies of kinesin-related proteins provide antagonistic activities necessary to balance mitotic forces. A recent study by Sharp et al.((1)) sheds further light on the subject by exploiting the genetics and cytology of the fruit fly embryo.

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