Microcephaly protein Asp focuses the minus ends of spindle microtubules at the pole and within the spindle. Academic Article uri icon


  • Depletion of Drosophila melanogaster Asp, an orthologue of microcephaly protein ASPM, causes spindle pole unfocusing during mitosis. However, it remains unclear how Asp contributes to pole focusing, a process that also requires the kinesin-14 motor Ncd. We show that Asp localizes to the minus ends of spindle microtubule (MT) bundles and focuses them to make the pole independent of Ncd. We identified a critical domain in Asp exhibiting MT cross-linking activity in vitro. Asp was also localized to, and focuses the minus ends of, intraspindle MTs that were nucleated in an augmin-dependent manner and translocated toward the poles by spindle MT flux. Ncd, in contrast, functioned as a global spindle coalescence factor not limited to MT ends. We propose a revised molecular model for spindle pole focusing in which Asp at the minus ends cross-links MTs at the pole and within the spindle. Additionally, this study provides new insight into the dynamics of intraspindle MTs by using Asp as a minus end marker.

publication date

  • December 7, 2015