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Curr Biol. 2012 Mar 6;22(5):437-44. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.01.041. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Anaphase B precedes anaphase A in the mouse egg.

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University College London Institute for Women's Health, 86-96 Chenies Mews, London WC1E 6HX, UK.


Segregation of chromosomes at the time of cell division is achieved by the microtubules and associated molecules of the spindle. Chromosomes attach to kinetochore microtubules (kMTs), which extend from the spindle pole region to kinetochores assembled upon centromeric DNA. In most animal cells studied, chromosome segregation occurs as a result of kMT shortening, which causes chromosomes to move toward the spindle poles (anaphase A). Anaphase A is typically followed by a spindle elongation that further separates the chromosomes (anaphase B). The experiments presented here provide the first detailed analysis of anaphase in a live vertebrate oocyte and show that chromosome segregation is initially driven by a significant spindle elongation (anaphase B), which is followed by a shortening of kMTs to fully segregate the chromosomes (anaphase A). Loss of tension across kMTs at anaphase onset produces a force imbalance, allowing the bipolar motor kinesin-5 to drive early anaphase B spindle elongation and chromosome segregation. Early anaphase B spindle elongation determines the extent of chromosome segregation and the size of the resulting cells. The vertebrate egg therefore employs a novel mode of anaphase wherein spindle elongation caused by loss of k-fiber tension is harnessed to kick-start chromosome segregation prior to anaphase A.

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