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Curr Biol. 2013 Dec 2;23(23):2423-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.023. Epub 2013 Nov 14.

Antagonistic spindle motors and MAPs regulate metaphase spindle length and chromosome segregation.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Metaphase describes a phase of mitosis where chromosomes are attached and oriented on the bipolar spindle for subsequent segregation at anaphase. In diverse cell types, the metaphase spindle is maintained at characteristic constant length [1-3]. Metaphase spindle length is proposed to be regulated by a balance of pushing and pulling forces generated by distinct sets of spindle microtubules (MTs) and their interactions with motors and MT-associated proteins (MAPs). Spindle length is further proposed to be important for chromosome segregation fidelity, as cells with shorter- or longer-than-normal metaphase spindles, generated through deletion or inhibition of individual mitotic motors or MAPs, showed chromosome segregation defects. To test the force-balance model of spindle length control and its effect on chromosome segregation, we applied fast microfluidic temperature control with live-cell imaging to monitor the effect of deleting or switching off different combinations of antagonistic force contributors in the fission yeast metaphase spindle. We show that the spindle midzone proteins kinesin-5 cut7p and MT bundler ase1p contribute to outward-pushing forces and that the spindle kinetochore proteins kinesin-8 klp5/6p and dam1p contribute to inward-pulling forces. Removing these proteins individually led to aberrant metaphase spindle length and chromosome segregation defects. Removing these proteins in antagonistic combination rescued the defective spindle length and in some combinations also partially rescued chromosome segregation defects.

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