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Curr Biol. 2004 Dec 14;14(23):2149-55.

Anaphase spindle mechanics prevent mis-segregation of merotelically oriented chromosomes.

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Department of Biology, CB#3280, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Merotelic kinetochore orientation is a kinetochore misattachment in which a single kinetochore is attached to microtubules from both spindle poles instead of just one. It can be favored in specific circumstances, is not detected by the mitotic checkpoint, and induces lagging chromosomes in anaphase. In mammalian cells, it occurs at high frequency in early mitosis, but few anaphase cells show lagging chromosomes. We developed live-cell imaging methods to determine whether and how the mitotic spindle prevents merotelic kinetochores from producing lagging chromosomes. We found that merotelic kinetochores entering anaphase never lost attachment to the spindle poles; they remained attached to both microtubule bundles, but this did not prevent them from segregating correctly. The two microtubule bundles usually showed different fluorescence intensities, the brighter bundle connecting the merotelic kinetochore to the correct pole. During anaphase, the dimmer bundle lengthened much more than the brighter bundle as spindle elongation occurred. This resulted in correct segregation of the merotelically oriented chromosome. We propose a model based on the ratios of microtubules to the correct versus incorrect pole for how anaphase spindle dynamics and microtubule polymerization at kinetochores prevent potential segregation errors deriving from merotelic kinetochore orientation.

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