2016 journal article

Local Anchorage of Kinetochore-Fibers to the Mammalian Spindle Provides Mechanical Isolation and Load-Bearing Redundancy

Biophysical Journal, 110(3), 355a.

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Added: February 24, 2020

During cell division, kinetochores attach chromosomes to the spindle through microtubule bundles called k-fibers. Forces generated at kinetochores move chromosomes, rather than k-fibers; thus, the latter must be structurally anchored to the spindle. How a dynamic spindle robustly anchors its k-fibers is not understood. Here, we probe where and how the mammalian spindle holds on to its k-fibers to bear the load of chromosome movement. We use laser ablation to sever k-fibers at different locations and detach them from spindle poles, thereby revealing their anchorage within the spindle body. The immediate relaxation response post-ablation indicates that k-fibers are anchored not only at their ends, but also along their lengths within the spindle. Effective anchorage scales with k-fiber length for the first few microns, but then saturates, indicating that k-fibers are effectively locally anchored within the first few microns of their lengths. This anchorage also occurs locally along the spindle's width, as little load is shared between neighboring k-fibers. We find that increasing microtubule crosslinking increases k-fiber anchorage, and that depleting NuMA, known to crosslink microtubules at poles, significantly disrupts local anchorage of k-fibers to the spindle body. In contrast, depletion of microtubule crosslinkers Eg5 and PRC1 does not affect anchorage despite these proteins’ local mechanical functions. Together, the data indicate that NuMA-mediated microtubule crosslinking in the spindle body allows for local anchorage and isolation of k-fibers, and mechanical redundancy in their connections to the spindle. Such mechanical isolation and redundancy are well-suited to ensure robust k-fiber load-bearing and chromosome segregation despite dynamic spindle forces and structures.