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J Cell Biol. 2006 Dec 18;175(6):881-91.

Katanin controls mitotic and meiotic spindle length.

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Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Accurate control of spindle length is a conserved feature of eukaryotic cell division. Lengthening of mitotic spindles contributes to chromosome segregation and cytokinesis during mitosis in animals and fungi. In contrast, spindle shortening may contribute to conservation of egg cytoplasm during female meiosis. Katanin is a microtubule-severing enzyme that is concentrated at mitotic and meiotic spindle poles in animals. We show that inhibition of katanin slows the rate of spindle shortening in nocodazole-treated mammalian fibroblasts and in untreated Caenorhabditis elegans meiotic embryos. Wild-type C. elegans meiotic spindle shortening proceeds through an early katanin-independent phase marked by increasing microtubule density and a second, katanin-dependent phase that occurs after microtubule density stops increasing. In addition, double-mutant analysis indicated that gamma-tubulin-dependent nucleation and microtubule severing may provide redundant mechanisms for increasing microtubule number during the early stages of meiotic spindle assembly.

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