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J Cell Biol. 2006 Apr 24;173(2):153-7.

Structural activation of Mad2 in the mitotic spindle checkpoint: the two-state Mad2 model versus the Mad2 template model.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, 75390, USA.


The inheritance of a normal assortment of chromosomes during each cell division relies on a cell-cycle surveillance system called the mitotic spindle checkpoint. The existence of sister chromatids that do not achieve proper bipolar attachment to the mitotic spindle in a cell activates this checkpoint, which inhibits the ubiquitin ligase activity of the anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C) and delays the onset of anaphase. The mitotic arrest deficiency 2 (Mad2) spindle checkpoint protein inhibits APC/C through binding to its mitotic-specific activator, Cdc20. Binding of Mad2 to Cdc20 involves a large conformational change of Mad2 and requires the Mad1-Mad2 interaction in vivo. Two related but distinct models of Mad1-assisted activation of Mad2, the "two-state Mad2" and the "Mad2 template" models, have been proposed. I review the recent structural, biochemical, and cell biological data on Mad2, discuss the differences between the two models, and propose experiments that test their key principles.

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