Movement and segregation of kinetochores experimentally detached from mammalian chromosomes

B. R. Brinkley, R. P. Zinkowski, W. L. Mollon, F. M. Davis, M. A. Pisegna, M. Pershouse, P. N. Rao

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125 Scopus citations


The kinetochore is a specialized structure at the centromere of eukaryotic chromosomes that attaches chromosomes to the mitotic spindle. Recently, several lines of evidence have suggested that kinetochores may have more than a passive role in the movement of chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis. Kinetochores seem to attract and 'capture' microtubules that grow from the spindle poles and microtubules may lengthen or shorten by the addition or subtraction of tubulin subunits at their kinetochore-associated ends3-6. An attractive hypothesis is that kinetochores function as 'self-contained engines running on a microtubule track'5. Here, we show that kinetochores can be experimentally detached from chromosomes when caffeine is applied to Chinese hamster ovary cells that are arrested in the G1/S phase of the cell cycle. The detached kinetochore fragments can still interact with spindle microtubules and complete all the mitotic movements in the absence of other chromosomal components. As these cells enter mitosis before DNA synthesis is completed, chromosome replication need not be a prerequisite for the pairing, alignment and segregation of kinetochores.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-254
Number of pages4
Issue number6196
StatePublished - 1988


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