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Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Feb;23(3):401-11. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E11-02-0095. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

Timing of centrosome separation is important for accurate chromosome segregation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.


Spindle assembly, establishment of kinetochore attachment, and sister chromatid separation must occur during mitosis in a highly coordinated fashion to ensure accurate chromosome segregation. In most vertebrate cells, the nuclear envelope must break down to allow interaction between microtubules of the mitotic spindle and the kinetochores. It was previously shown that nuclear envelope breakdown (NEB) is not coordinated with centrosome separation and that centrosome separation can be either complete at the time of NEB or can be completed after NEB. In this study, we investigated whether the timing of centrosome separation affects subsequent mitotic events such as establishment of kinetochore attachment or chromosome segregation. We used a combination of experimental and computational approaches to investigate kinetochore attachment and chromosome segregation in cells with complete versus incomplete spindle pole separation at NEB. We found that cells with incomplete spindle pole separation exhibit higher rates of kinetochore misattachments and chromosome missegregation than cells that complete centrosome separation before NEB. Moreover, our mathematical model showed that two spindle poles in close proximity do not "search" the entire cellular space, leading to formation of large numbers of syntelic attachments, which can be an intermediate stage in the formation of merotelic kinetochores.

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