Feedback control of chromosome separation by a midzone Aurora B gradient

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Science  18 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6194, pp. 332-336
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251121

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Taking a check on chromosome spacing

Animal cells divide by mitosis. Chromosomes become condensed and congregate on the mitotic spindle in the center of the cell—the midzone. The spindle then separates sister chromosomes, pulling them to opposite ends of the cell, ready to form new daughter nuclei. Afonso et al. now show that chromosome separation is monitored by the level of midzone-associated Aurora B kinase activity (see the Perspective by Hadders and Lens). This process ensures that daughter nuclei only reassemble after sister chromosomes have successfully separated.

Science, this issue p. 332; see also p. 265


Accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis requires the physical separation of sister chromatids before nuclear envelope reassembly (NER). However, how these two processes are coordinated remains unknown. Here, we identified a conserved feedback control mechanism that delays chromosome decondensation and NER in response to incomplete chromosome separation during anaphase. A midzone-associated Aurora B gradient was found to monitor chromosome position along the division axis and to prevent premature chromosome decondensation by retaining Condensin I. PP1/PP2A phosphatases counteracted this gradient and promoted chromosome decondensation and NER. Thus, an Aurora B gradient appears to mediate a surveillance mechanism that prevents chromosome decondensation and NER until effective separation of sister chromatids is achieved. This allows the correction and reintegration of lagging chromosomes in the main nuclei before completion of NER.

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