Sites of microtubule assembly and disassembly in the mitotic spindle. Academic Article uri icon


  • We have microinjected biotinylated tubulin into mitotic fibroblast cells to identify the sites in the spindle at which new subunits are incorporated into microtubules (MTs). Labeled subunits were visualized in the electron microscope using an antibody to biotin followed by a secondary antibody coupled to colloidal gold. Astral MTs incorporate labeled subunits very rapidly by elongation of existing MTs and by new nucleation from the centrosome. At a slower rate, kinetochore MTs incorporate subunits at the kinetochore progressively during metaphase, suggesting a slow poleward flux of subunits in the kinetochore fiber. When cells injected in metaphase were examined in anaphase, a significant fraction of kinetochore MTs was unlabeled, suggesting that depolymerization had occurred at the kinetochore concomitant with chromosome to pole movement. The existence of opposite fluxes at the kinetochore during metaphase and anaphase suggests that two separate forces are responsible for chromosome congression and anaphase movement.

publication date

  • May 23, 1986

published in