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Curr Biol. 2009 Apr 28;19(8):694-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.02.056. Epub 2009 Apr 2.

In vivo protein architecture of the eukaryotic kinetochore with nanometer scale accuracy.

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


The kinetochore is a macromolecular protein machine [1] that links centromeric chromatin to the plus ends of one or more microtubules (MTs) and segregates chromosomes during cell division. Its core structure consists of eight multicomponent protein complexes, most of which are conserved in all eukaryotes. We use an in vivo two-color fluorescence microscopy technique to determine, for the first time, the location of these proteins along the budding yeast kinetochore axis at nanometer resolution. Together with kinetochore protein counts [2, 3], these localizations predict the 3D protein architecture of a metaphase kinetochore-microtubule attachment and provide new functional insights. We also find that the kinetochore becomes much shorter in anaphase as metaphase tension is lost. Shortening is due mainly to a decrease in the length of the Ndc80 complex, which may result either from intramolecular bending of the Ndc80 complex at the kink within the stalk region of the Ndc80-Nuf2 dimer [4, 5] or from a change in its orientation relative to the microtubule axis. Conformational changes within the Ndc80 and Mtw1 complexes may serve as mechanical cues for tension-dependent regulation of MT attachment and the spindle-assembly checkpoint. The geometry of the core structure of the budding yeast kinetochore reported here is remarkably similar to that found in mammalian kinetochores, indicating that kinetochore structure is conserved in eukaryotes with either point or regional centromeres.

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