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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 21;106(16):6673-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811248106. Epub 2009 Apr 3.

Kinetochore asymmetry defines a single yeast lineage.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University Medical Center, 701 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Asymmetric cell division is of fundamental importance in biology as it allows for the establishment of separate cell lineages during the development of multicellular organisms. Although microbial systems, including the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, are excellent models of asymmetric cell division, this phenotype occurs in all cell divisions; consequently, models of lineage-specific segregation patterns in these systems do not exist. Here, we report the first example of lineage-specific asymmetric division in yeast. We used fluorescent tags to show that components of the yeast kinetochore, the protein complex that anchors chromosomes to the mitotic spindle, divide asymmetrically in a single postmeiotic lineage. This phenotype is not seen in vegetatively dividing haploid or diploid cells. This kinetochore asymmetry suggests a mechanism for the selective segregation of sister centromeres to daughter cells to establish different cell lineages or fates. These results provide a mechanistic link between lineage-defining asymmetry of metazoa with unicellular eukaryotes.

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