Review

The Mitotic Spindle: A Self-Made Machine

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Science  19 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5542, pp. 543-547
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063488

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Abstract

The mitotic spindle is a highly dynamic molecular machine composed of tubulin, motors, and other molecules. It assembles around the chromosomes and distributes the duplicated genome to the daughter cells during mitosis. The biochemical and physical principles that govern the assembly of this machine are still unclear. However, accumulated discoveries indicate that chromosomes play a key role. Apparently, they generate a local cytoplasmic state that supports the nucleation and growth of microtubules. Then soluble and chromosome-associated molecular motors sort them into a bipolar array. The emerging picture is that spindle assembly is governed by a combination of modular principles and that their relative contribution may vary in different cell types and in various organisms.

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