Direct kinetochore-spindle pole connections are not required for chromosome segregation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Segregation of genetic material occurs when chromosomes move to opposite spindle poles during mitosis. This movement depends on K-fibers, specialized microtubule (MT) bundles attached to the chromosomes' kinetochores. A long-standing assumption is that continuous K-fibers connect every kinetochore to a spindle pole and the force for chromosome movement is produced at the kinetochore and coupled with MT depolymerization. However, we found that chromosomes still maintained their position at the spindle equator during metaphase and segregated properly during anaphase when one of their K-fibers was severed near the kinetochore with a laser microbeam. We also found that, in normal fully assembled spindles, K-fibers of some chromosomes did not extend to the spindle pole. These K-fibers connected to adjacent K-fibers and/or nonkinetochore MTs. Poleward movement of chromosomes with short K-fibers was uncoupled from MT depolymerization at the kinetochore. Instead, these chromosomes moved by dynein-mediated transport of the entire K-fiber/kinetochore assembly. Thus, at least two distinct parallel mechanisms drive chromosome segregation in mammalian cells.

publication date

  • July 21, 2014