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Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Feb;20(4):1252-67. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E08-10-1047. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Systematic analysis in Caenorhabditis elegans reveals that the spindle checkpoint is composed of two largely independent branches.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Kinetochores use the spindle checkpoint to delay anaphase onset until all chromosomes have formed bipolar attachments to spindle microtubules. Here, we use controlled monopolar spindle formation to systematically define the requirements for spindle checkpoint signaling in the Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. The results, when interpreted in light of kinetochore assembly epistasis analysis, indicate that checkpoint activation is coordinately directed by the NDC-80 complex, the Rod/Zwilch/Zw10 complex, and BUB-1-three components independently targeted to the outer kinetochore by the scaffold protein KNL-1. These components orchestrate the integration of a core Mad1(MDF-1)/Mad2(MDF-2)-based signal, with a largely independent Mad3(SAN-1)/BUB-3 pathway. Evidence for independence comes from the fact that subtly elevating Mad2(MDF-2) levels bypasses the requirement for BUB-3 and Mad3(SAN-1) in kinetochore-dependent checkpoint activation. Mad3(SAN-1) does not accumulate at unattached kinetochores and BUB-3 kinetochore localization is independent of Mad2(MDF-2). We discuss the rationale for a bipartite checkpoint mechanism in which a core Mad1(MDF-1)/Mad2(MDF-2) signal generated at kinetochores is integrated with a separate cytoplasmic Mad3(SAN-1)/BUB-3-based pathway.

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