Molecular Biology

A Tug of War

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Science  12 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5579, pp. 161
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5579.161a

During cell division it is critical that each pair of sister chromatids (the replicated chromosomes) be accurately partitioned between the two daughter cells. This is achieved by orienting the centromeres of the sister chromatids to face opposing poles of the dividing cell; they are then captured by microtubules that radiate from the poles and pull the pairs apart. How is this back-to-back orientation attained.

Stear and Roth show that, in Caenorhabditis elegans mutant for the gene holocentric protein 6 (hcp6), individual chromatids can attach to microtubules from both poles, creating a tug-of-war—like arrangement. The centromeres that normally face away from each other become highly disorganized, and the chromatin is partially decondensed in hcp6 mutants, suggesting that failure of chromosome rigidity is responsible for the sloppy segregation. — GR

Genes Dev.16, 1498 (2002).

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