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J Cell Sci. 2009 Nov 1;122(Pt 21):3831-6. doi: 10.1242/jcs.004689.

Structure-function insights into the yeast Dam1 kinetochore complex.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley/Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3220, USA.


Faithful segregation of genetic material during cell division requires the dynamic but robust attachment of chromosomes to spindle microtubules during all stages of mitosis. This regulated attachment occurs at kinetochores, which are complex protein organelles that are essential for cell survival and genome integrity. In budding yeast, in which a single microtubule attaches per kinetochore, a heterodecamer known as the Dam1 complex (or DASH complex) is required for proper chromosome segregation. Recent years have seen a burst of structural and biophysical data concerning this interesting complex, which has caught the attention of the mitosis research field. In vitro, the Dam1 complex interacts directly with tubulin and self-assembles into ring structures around the microtubule surface. The ring is capable of tracking with depolymerizing ends, and a model has been proposed whereby the circular geometry of the oligomeric Dam1 complex allows it to couple the depolymerization of microtubules to processive chromosome movement in the absence of any additional energy source. Although it is attractive and simple, several important aspects of this model remain controversial. Additionally, the generality of the Dam1 mechanism has been questioned owing to the fact that there are no obvious Dam1 homologs beyond fungi. In this Commentary, we discuss recent structure-function studies of this intriguing complex.

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