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

Dr. Dolittle and the making of the mitotic spindle.

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University of Edinburgh, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, Michael Swann Building, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, UK.


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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