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Concept: Anaphase


The two Condensin complexes in human cells are essential for mitotic chromosome structure. We used homozygous genome editing to fluorescently tag Condensin I and II subunits and mapped their absolute abundance, spacing, and dynamic localization during mitosis by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FSC)-calibrated live-cell imaging and superresolution microscopy. Although ∼35,000 Condensin II complexes are stably bound to chromosomes throughout mitosis, ∼195,000 Condensin I complexes dynamically bind in two steps: prometaphase and early anaphase. The two Condensins rarely colocalize at the chromatid axis, where Condensin II is centrally confined, but Condensin I reaches ∼50% of the chromatid diameter from its center. Based on our comprehensive quantitative data, we propose a three-step hierarchical loop model of mitotic chromosome compaction: Condensin II initially fixes loops of a maximum size of ∼450 kb at the chromatid axis, whose size is then reduced by Condensin I binding to ∼90 kb in prometaphase and ∼70 kb in anaphase, achieving maximum chromosome compaction upon sister chromatid segregation.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Metaphase, Anaphase, Chromatid


Sister chromatid attachment during meiosis II (MII) is maintained by securin-mediated inhibition of separase. In maternal ageing, oocytes show increased inter-sister kinetochore distance and premature sister chromatid separation (PSCS), suggesting aberrant separase activity. Here, we find that MII oocytes from aged mice have less securin than oocytes from young mice and that this reduction is mediated by increased destruction by the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) during meiosis I (MI) exit. Inhibition of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) kinase, Mps1, during MI exit in young oocytes replicates this phenotype. Further, over-expression of securin or Mps1 protects against the age-related increase in inter-sister kinetochore distance and PSCS. These findings show that maternal ageing compromises the oocyte SAC-APC/C axis leading to a decrease in securin that ultimately causes sister chromatid cohesion loss. Manipulating this axis and/or increasing securin may provide novel therapeutic approaches to alleviating the risk of oocyte aneuploidy in maternal ageing.

Concepts: Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Anaphase, Anaphase-promoting complex, Spindle checkpoint


Mitotic spindle positioning specifies the plane of cell division during anaphase. Spindle orientation and positioning are therefore critical to ensure symmetric division in mitosis and asymmetric division during development. The control of astral microtubule length plays an essential role in positioning the spindle. In this study, using gene knockout, we show that the kinesin-8 Kif18b controls microtubule length to center the mitotic spindle at metaphase. Using in vitro reconstitution, we reveal that Kif18b is a highly processive plus end-directed motor that uses a C-terminal nonmotor microtubule-binding region to accumulate at growing microtubule plus ends. This region is regulated by phosphorylation to spatially control Kif18b accumulation at plus ends and is essential for Kif18b-dependent spindle positioning and regulation of microtubule length. Finally, we demonstrate that Kif18b shortens microtubules by increasing the catastrophe rate of dynamic microtubules. Overall, our work reveals that Kif18b uses its motile properties to reach microtubule ends, where it regulates astral microtubule length to ensure spindle centering.

Concepts: Eukaryote, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Motor protein, Centriole, Microtubule, Anaphase


Anaphase in epithelia typically does not ensue until after spindles have achieved a characteristic position and orientation, but how or even if cells link spindle position to anaphase onset is unknown. Here, we show that myosin-10 (Myo10), a motor protein involved in epithelial spindle dynamics, binds to Wee1, a conserved regulator of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1). Wee1 inhibition accelerates progression through metaphase and disrupts normal spindle dynamics, whereas perturbing Myo10 function delays anaphase onset in a Wee1-dependent manner. Moreover, Myo10 perturbation increases Wee1-mediated inhibitory phosphorylation on Cdk1, which, unexpectedly, concentrates at cell-cell junctions. Based on these and other results, we propose a model in which the Myo10-Wee1 interaction coordinates attainment of spindle position and orientation with anaphase onset.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Adenosine triphosphate, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Metaphase, Anaphase, Cdc25


The separation of sister chromatids during anaphase is the culmination of mitosis and one of the most strikingly beautiful examples of cellular movement. It consists of two distinct processes: Anaphase A, the movement of chromosomes toward spindle poles via shortening of the connecting fibers, and anaphase B, separation of the two poles from one another via spindle elongation. I focus here on anaphase A chromosome-to-pole movement. The chapter begins by summarizing classical observations of chromosome movements, which support the current understanding of anaphase mechanisms. Live cell fluorescence microscopy studies showed that poleward chromosome movement is associated with disassembly of the kinetochore-attached microtubule fibers that link chromosomes to poles. Microtubule-marking techniques established that kinetochore-fiber disassembly often occurs through loss of tubulin subunits from the kinetochore-attached plus ends. In addition, kinetochore-fiber disassembly in many cells occurs partly through ‘flux’, where the microtubules flow continuously toward the poles and tubulin subunits are lost from minus ends. Molecular mechanistic models for how load-bearing attachments are maintained to disassembling microtubule ends, and how the forces are generated to drive these disassembly-coupled movements, are discussed.

Concepts: Eukaryote, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Metaphase, Tubulin, Anaphase, Chromatid


To achieve chromosome segregation during mitosis, sister chromatids must undergo a dramatic change in their behavior to switch from balanced oscillations at the metaphase plate to directed poleward motion during anaphase. However, the factors that alter chromosome behavior at the metaphase-to-anaphase transition remain incompletely understood. Here, we perform time-lapse imaging to analyze anaphase chromosome dynamics in human cells. Using multiple directed biochemical, genetic, and physical perturbations, our results demonstrate that differences in the global phosphorylation states between metaphase and anaphase are the major determinant of chromosome motion dynamics. Indeed, causing a mitotic phosphorylation state to persist into anaphase produces dramatic metaphase-like oscillations. These induced oscillations depend on both kinetochore-derived and polar ejection forces that oppose poleward motion. Thus, our analysis of anaphase chromosome motion reveals that dephosphorylation of multiple mitotic substrates is required to suppress metaphase chromosome oscillatory motions and achieve directed poleward motion for successful chromosome segregation.

Concepts: Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Metaphase, Anaphase, Chromatid


To complete mitosis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae needs to activate the mitotic phosphatase Cdc14. Two pathways contribute to Cdc14 regulation: FEAR (Cdc14 early anaphase release) and MEN (mitotic exit network). Cdc5 polo-like kinase was found to be an important mitotic exit component. However, its specific role in mitotic exit regulation and its involvement in Cdc14 release remain unclear. Here, we provide insight into the mechanism by which Cdc5 contributes to the timely release of Cdc14. Our genetic and biochemical data indicate that Cdc5 acts in parallel with MEN during anaphase. This MEN-independent Cdc5 function requires active separase and activation by Cdk1-dependent phosphorylation. Cdk1 first phosphorylates Cdc5 to activate it in early anaphase, and then, in late anaphase, further phosphorylation of Cdc5 by Cdk1 is needed to promote its MEN-related functions.

Concepts: Cell cycle, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Mitosis, Anaphase, Chromatid, Separase, Cohesin, Securin


Accurate chromosome segregation requires timely dissolution of chromosome cohesion after chromosomes are properly attached to the mitotic spindle. Separase is absolutely essential for cohesion dissolution in organisms from yeast to man. It cleaves the kleisin subunit of cohesin and opens the cohesin ring to allow chromosome segregation. Cohesin cleavage is spatiotemporally controlled by separase-associated regulatory proteins, including the inhibitory chaperone securin, and by phosphorylation of both the enzyme and substrates. Dysregulation of this process causes chromosome missegregation and aneuploidy, contributing to cancer and birth defects. Despite its essential functions, atomic structures of separase have not been determined. Here we report crystal structures of the separase protease domain from the thermophilic fungus Chaetomium thermophilum, alone or covalently bound to unphosphorylated and phosphorylated inhibitory peptides derived from a cohesin cleavage site. These structures reveal how separase recognizes cohesin and how cohesin phosphorylation by polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) enhances cleavage. Consistent with a previous cellular study, mutating two securin residues in a conserved motif that partly matches the separase cleavage consensus converts securin from a separase inhibitor to a substrate. Our study establishes atomic mechanisms of substrate cleavage by separase and suggests competitive inhibition by securin.

Concepts: DNA, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Enzyme inhibitor, Mitosis, Anaphase, PLK1


Proper chromosome segregation is crucial for preserving genomic integrity, and errors in this process cause chromosome mis-segregation, which may contribute to cancer development. Sister chromatid separation is triggered by Separase, an evolutionary conserved protease that cleaves the cohesin complex, allowing the dissolution of sister chromatid cohesion. Here we provide evidence that Separase participates in genomic stability maintenance by controlling replication fork speed. We found that Separase interacted with the replication licensing factors MCM2-7, and genome-wide data showed that Separase co-localized with MCM complex and cohesin. Unexpectedly, the depletion of Separase increased the fork velocity about 1.5-fold and caused a strong acetylation of cohesin’s SMC3 subunit and altered checkpoint response. Notably, Separase silencing triggered genomic instability in both HeLa and human primary fibroblast cells. Our results show a novel mechanism for fork progression mediated by Separase and thus the basis for genomic instability associated with tumorigenesis.

Concepts: Gene, Species, Chromosome, Cell cycle, DNA replication, Centromere, Mitosis, Anaphase


Exit from mitosis is controlled by silencing of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). It is important that preceding exit, all sister chromatid pairs are correctly bioriented, and that residual catenation is resolved, permitting complete sister chromatid separation in the ensuing anaphase. Here we determine that the metaphase response to catenation in mammalian cells operates through PKCε. The PKCε-controlled pathway regulates exit from the SAC only when mitotic cells are challenged by retained catenation and this delayed exit is characterized by BubR1-high and Mad2-low kinetochores. In addition, we show that this pathway is necessary to facilitate resolution of retained catenanes in mitosis. When delayed by catenation in mitosis, inhibition of PKCε results in premature entry into anaphase with PICH-positive strands and chromosome bridging. These findings demonstrate the importance of PKCε-mediated regulation in protection from loss of chromosome integrity in cells failing to resolve catenation in G2.

Concepts: Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Anaphase, Chromatid