Research Article

Actin protects mammalian eggs against chromosome segregation errors

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Science  25 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6353, eaal1647
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1647

Actin helps chromosome segregation in eggs

Spindle microtubules are well known to orchestrate the segregation of chromosomes during egg development. But the other major cytoskeletal component, actin, has not been thought to play a role in this process. Mogessie and Schuh examined how chromosomes are segregated in mammalian cells (see the Perspective by Maiato and Ferrás). Instead of using an entirely microtubule-dependent mechanism, mammalian oocytes use a second spindle that is made of F-actin to segregate their chromosomes correctly. Actin associated with the spindle bundles microtubules into functional kinetochore fibers, the key structures that drive chromosome segregation. Increasing or decreasing the number of actin filaments in the spindle causes an imbalance in kinetochore fiber bundling, which results in chromosome segregation errors and aneuploidy, a frequent cause of miscarriage and Down syndrome in humans.

Science, this issue p. eaal1647; see also p. 756