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Chromosoma. 1989 Jun;98(1):33-9.

Tension, microtubule rearrangements, and the proper distribution of chromosomes in mitosis.

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Department of Zoology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706.


The basis for stable versus unstable kinetochore orientation was investigated by a correlated living-cell/ultrastructural study of grasshopper spermatocytes. Mal-oriented bivalents having both kinetochores oriented to one spindle pole were induced by micromanipulation. Such mal-orientations are stable while the bivalent is subject to tension applied by micromanipulation but unstable after tension is released. Unstable bivalents always reorient with movement of one kinetochore toward the opposite pole. Microtubules associated with stably oriented bivalents, whether they are mal-oriented or in normal bipolar orientation, are arranged in orderly parallel bundles running from each kinetochore toward the pole. Similar orderly kinetochore microtubule arrangements characterized mal-oriented bivalents fixed just after release of tension. A significantly different microtubule arrangement is found only some time after tension release, when kinetochore movement is evident. The microtubules of a reorienting kinetochore always include a small number of microtubules running toward the pole toward which the kinetochore was moving at the time of fixation. All other microtubules associated with such a moving kinetochore appear to have lost their anchorage to the original pole and to be dragged passively as the kinetochore proceeds to the other pole. Thus, the stable anchorage of kinetochore microtubules to the spindle is associated with tension force and unstable anchorage with the absence of tension. The effect of tension is readily explained if force production and anchorage are both produced by mitotic motors, which link microtubules to the spindle as they generate tension forces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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