2017 journal article

Mapping Load-Bearing in the Mammalian Spindle Reveals Local Kinetochore Fiber Anchorage that Provides Mechanical Isolation and Redundancy

Current Biology, 27(14), 2112–2122.e5.

MeSH headings : Animals; Cell Line; Kinetics; Kinetochores / physiology; Potoroidae; Spindle Apparatus / physiology
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Added: February 24, 2020

Active forces generated at kinetochores move chromosomes, and the dynamic spindle must robustly anchor kinetochore fibers (k-fibers) to bear this load. The mammalian spindle bears the load of chromosome movement far from poles, but we do not know where and how—physically and molecularly—this load distributes across the spindle. In part, this is because probing spindle mechanics in live cells is difficult. Yet answering this question is key to understanding how the spindle generates and responds to force and performs its diverse mechanical functions. Here, we map load-bearing across the mammalian spindle in space-time and dissect local anchorage mechanics and mechanism. To do so, we laser-ablate single k-fibers at different spindle locations and in different molecular backgrounds and quantify the immediate relaxation of chromosomes, k-fibers, and microtubule speckles. We find that load redistribution is locally confined in all directions: along the first 3–4 μm from kinetochores, scaling with k-fiber length, and laterally within ∼2 μm of k-fiber sides, without detectable load sharing between neighboring k-fibers. A phenomenological model suggests that dense, transient crosslinks to the spindle along k-fibers bear the load of chromosome movement but that these connections do not limit the timescale of spindle reorganization. The microtubule crosslinker NuMA is needed for the local load-bearing observed, whereas Eg5 and PRC1 are not detectably required, suggesting specialization in mechanical function. Together, the data and model suggest that NuMA-mediated crosslinks locally bear load, providing mechanical isolation and redundancy while allowing spindle fluidity. These features are well suited to support robust chromosome segregation.