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Genes Dev. 2004 Sep 15;18(18):2255-68.

A conserved protein network controls assembly of the outer kinetochore and its ability to sustain tension.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Kinetochores play an essential role in chromosome segregation by forming dynamic connections with spindle microtubules. Here, we identify a set of 10 copurifying kinetochore proteins from Caenorhabditis elegans, seven of which were previously uncharacterized. Using in vivo assays to monitor chromosome segregation, kinetochore assembly, and the mechanical stability of chromosome-microtubule attachments, we show that this copurifying protein network plays a central role at the kinetochore-microtubule interface. In addition, our analysis suggests that the network is comprised of three groups of proteins that contribute in distinct ways to this interface: KNL proteins act after the assembly of centromeric chromatin to generate the core of the microtubule-binding interface, MIS proteins control the rate and extent of formation of this interface, and NDC proteins are necessary to sustain tension during interactions with spindle microtubules. We also purify a similar set of associated proteins from human cells that includes four novel proteins and has recognizable homologs from each functional class. Thus, this protein network is a conserved constituent of the outer kinetochore, and the functions defined by our analysis in C. elegans are likely to be widely relevant.

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