Mammalian kinetochores count attached microtubules in a sensitive and switch-like manner to control cell cycle progression

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Jonathan Alexander Kuhn, Sophie Dumont


The Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC) maintains genomic integrity by preventing anaphase until all kinetochores attach to the spindle. What specific signals are required for SAC satisfaction at mammalian kinetochores, and in what magnitude, are not well understood and central to understanding SAC signal processing and function. Here, we directly and independently tune candidate input signals - spindle forces and Hec1-microtubule binding - and map SAC outputs. By detaching microtubules from the spindle, we first demonstrate that the SAC does not respond to changes in spindle pulling forces. We then tune and fix the fraction of Hec1 molecules capable of microtubule binding, and interpret SAC output changes as coming from changes in binding, and not spindle forces. While the speed of satisfaction reduces with fewer attached microtubules, the kinetochore turns off the SAC even with few - approximately four - such microtubules. Thus, the mammalian kinetochore responds specifically to microtubule binding, and does so as a single, switch-like, sensitive unit. This may allow the kinetochore to rapidly react to attachments and maintain a robust response despite dynamic microtubule numbers.

Related Concepts

Physiological Aspects
Binding Protein
Instrument, Surgical, Sonic AND Accessory/Attachment
Anaphase-promoting complex
Spindle Cell
Microtubule Binding
Binding (Molecular Function)

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