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ArticleRoles of polymerization dynamics, opposed motors, and a tensile element in governing the length of Xenopus extract meiotic spindles(American Society for Cell Biology, 2005-03-23) Mitchison, Timothy J. ; Maddox, P. ; Gaetz, J. ; Groen, Aaron C. ; Shirasu, M. ; Desai, Ankur R. ; Salmon, Edward D. ; Kapoor, Tarun M.Metaphase spindles assemble to a steady state in length by mechanisms that involve microtubule dynamics and motor proteins, but they are incompletely understood. We found that Xenopus extract spindles recapitulate the length of egg meiosis II spindles, by using mechanisms intrinsic to the spindle. To probe these mechanisms, we perturbed microtubule polymerization dynamics and opposed motor proteins and measured effects on spindle morphology and dynamics. Microtubules were stabilized by hexylene glycol and inhibition of the catastrophe factor mitotic centromere-associated kinesin (MCAK) (a kinesin 13, previously called XKCM) and destabilized by depolymerizing drugs. The opposed motors Eg5 and dynein were inhibited separately and together. Our results are consistent with important roles for polymerization dynamics in regulating spindle length, and for opposed motors in regulating the relative stability of bipolar versus monopolar organization. The response to microtubule destabilization suggests that an unidentified tensile element acts in parallel with these conventional factors, generating spindle shortening force.
ArticleBipolarization and poleward flux correlate during xenopus extract spindle assembly(American Society for Cell Biology, 2004-09-22) Mitchison, Timothy J. ; Maddox, P. ; Groen, Aaron C. ; Cameron, Lisa ; Perlman, Z. ; Ohi, Ryoma ; Desai, Ankur R. ; Salmon, Edward D. ; Kapoor, Tarun M.We investigated the mechanism by which meiotic spindles become bipolar and the correlation between bipolarity and poleward flux, using Xenopus egg extracts. By speckle microscopy and computational alignment, we find that monopolar sperm asters do not show evidence for flux, partially contradicting previous work. We account for the discrepancy by describing spontaneous bipolarization of sperm asters that was missed previously. During spontaneous bipolarization, onset of flux correlated with onset of bipolarity, implying that antiparallel microtubule organization may be required for flux. Using a probe for TPX2 in addition to tubulin, we describe two pathways that lead to spontaneous bipolarization, new pole assembly near chromatin, and pole splitting. By inhibiting the Ran pathway with excess importin-alpha, we establish a role for chromatin-derived, antiparallel overlap bundles in generating the sliding force for flux, and we examine these bundles by electron microscopy. Our results highlight the importance of two processes, chromatin-initiated microtubule nucleation, and sliding forces generated between antiparallel microtubules, in self-organization of spindle bipolarity and poleward flux.