Identification of the augmin complex in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans. Academic Article uri icon


  • Augmin is a protein complex that binds to spindle microtubules (MTs), recruits the potent MT nucleator, ?-tubulin, and thereby promotes the centrosome-independent MT generation within mitotic and meiotic spindles. Augmin is essential for acentrosomal spindle assembly, which is commonly observed during mitosis in plants and meiosis in female animals. In many animal somatic cells that possess centrosomes, the centrosome- and augmin-dependent mechanisms work cooperatively for efficient spindle assembly and cytokinesis. Yeasts have lost the augmin genes during evolution. It is hypothesized that their robust MT nucleation from the spindle pole body (SPB), the centrosome-equivalent structure in fungi, compensates for the lack of augmin. Intriguingly, however, a gene homologous to an augmin subunit (Aug6/AUGF) has been found in the genome of filamentous fungi, which has the SPB as a robust MT nucleation centre. Here, we aimed to clarify if the augmin complex is present in filamentous fungi and to identify its role in mitosis. By analysing the Aug6-like gene in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans, we found that it forms a large complex with several other proteins that share weak but significant homology to known augmin subunits. In A. nidulans, augmin was enriched at the SPB and also associated with spindle MTs during mitosis. However, the augmin gene disruptants did not exhibit growth defects under normal, checkpoint-deficient, or MT-destabilised conditions. Moreover, we obtained no evidence that A. nidulans augmin plays a role in ?-tubulin recruitment or in mitotic cell division. Our study uncovered the conservation of the augmin complex in the fungal species, and further suggests that augmin has several functions, besides mitotic spindle MT nucleation, that are yet to be identified.

publication date

  • 2014