Microtubule detyrosination guides chromosomes during mitosis

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Science  15 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6236, pp. 799-803
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5175

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Chromosomes: Let me be your guide

The correct alignment of chromosomes at the center of the mitotic spindle—the metaphase plate—before cell division is one of the key mechanisms for the maintenance of genomic stability. But is there anything special about the microtubules of the spindle that helps this process? Barisic et al. demonstrate that chromosome alignment at the cell equator is controlled by a specific posttranslational modification of selected microtubules oriented toward the center of the mitotic spindle.

Science, this issue p. 799


Before chromosomes segregate into daughter cells, they align at the mitotic spindle equator, a process known as chromosome congression. Centromere-associated protein E (CENP-E)/Kinesin-7 is a microtubule plus-end–directed kinetochore motor required for congression of pole-proximal chromosomes. Because the plus-ends of many astral microtubules in the spindle point to the cell cortex, it remains unknown how CENP-E guides pole-proximal chromosomes specifically toward the equator. We found that congression of pole-proximal chromosomes depended on specific posttranslational detyrosination of spindle microtubules that point to the equator. In vitro reconstitution experiments demonstrated that CENP-E–dependent transport was strongly enhanced on detyrosinated microtubules. Blocking tubulin tyrosination in cells caused ubiquitous detyrosination of spindle microtubules, and CENP-E transported chromosomes away from spindle poles in random directions. Thus, CENP-E–driven chromosome congression is guided by microtubule detyrosination.

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