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EMBO Rep. 2000 Jul;1(1):65-70.

Visualizing the spindle checkpoint in Drosophila spermatocytes.

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Cell Biology and Biophysics Programme, EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany.


The spindle assembly checkpoint detects defects in spindle structure or in the alignment of the chromosomes on the metaphase plate and delays the onset of anaphase until defects are corrected. Thus far, the evidence regarding the presence of a spindle checkpoint during meiosis in male Drosophila has been indirect and contradictory. On the one hand, chromosomes without pairing partners do not prevent meiosis progression. On the other hand, some conserved components of the spindle checkpoint machinery are expressed in these cells and behave as their homologue proteins do in systems with an active spindle checkpoint. To establish whether the spindle checkpoint is active in Drosophila spermatocytes we have followed meiosis progression by time-lapse microscopy under conditions where the checkpoint is likely to be activated. We have found that the presence of a relatively high number of misaligned chromosomes or a severe disruption of the meiotic spindle results in a significant delay in the time of entry into anaphase. These observations provide the first direct evidence substantiating the activity of a meiotic spindle checkpoint in male Drosophila.

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