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Kinetochore attachment sensed by competitive Mps1 and microtubule binding to Ndc80C

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Science  12 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6240, pp. 1260-1264
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa4029

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How cells sense connected chromosomes

Cells have a “checkpoint” that pauses cell division until all chromosomes are properly arranged on the mitotic spindle to allow precise distribution of one copy of each chromosome to each daughter cell. Hiruma et al. and Ji et al. explain the molecular mechanism by which cells sense that they are ready to divide. The protein kinase MPS1 associates with a protein complex at the kinetochore of the chromosome. Its activity produces signals that pause the cell cycle. When the chromosome becomes properly attached to the mitotic spindle, microtubules of the spindle physically compete for binding to the same site on the kinetochore where MPS1 is bound. Thus, once the kinetochore is properly attached, MPS1 dissociates, the inhibitory signal is lost, and cell division is allowed to proceed.

Science, this issue pp. 1264 and 1260

Abstract

The spindle checkpoint of the cell division cycle senses kinetochores that are not attached to microtubules and prevents precocious onset of anaphase, which can lead to aneuploidy. The nuclear division cycle 80 complex (Ndc80C) is a major microtubule receptor at the kinetochore. Ndc80C also mediates the kinetochore recruitment of checkpoint proteins. We found that the checkpoint protein kinase monopolar spindle 1 (Mps1) directly bound to Ndc80C through two independent interactions. Both interactions involved the microtubule-binding surfaces of Ndc80C and were directly inhibited in the presence of microtubules. Elimination of one such interaction in human cells caused checkpoint defects expected from a failure to detect unattached kinetochores. Competition between Mps1 and microtubules for Ndc80C binding thus constitutes a direct mechanism for the detection of unattached kinetochores.

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