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Concept: Chromatid


Egg activation refers to events required for transition of a gamete into an embryo, including establishment of the polyspermy block, completion of meiosis, entry into mitosis, selective recruitment and degradation of maternal mRNA, and pronuclear development. Here we show that zinc fluxes accompany human egg activation. We monitored calcium and zinc dynamics in individual human eggs using selective fluorophores following activation with calcium-ionomycin, ionomycin, or hPLCζ cRNA microinjection. These egg activation methods, as expected, induced rises in intracellular calcium levels and also triggered the coordinated release of zinc into the extracellular space in a prominent “zinc spark.” The ability of the gamete to mount a zinc spark response was meiotic-stage dependent. Moreover, chelation of intracellular zinc alone was sufficient to induce cell cycle resumption and transition of a meiotic cell into a mitotic one. Together, these results demonstrate critical functions for zinc dynamics and establish the zinc spark as an extracellular marker of early human development.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Gamete, Interphase, Chromatid


PP2A(Cdc55) is a highly conserved serine-threonine protein phosphatase that is involved in diverse cellular processes. In budding yeast, meiotic cells lacking PP2A(Cdc55) activity undergo a premature exit from meiosis I which results in a failure to form bipolar spindles and divide nuclei. This defect is largely due to its role in negatively regulating the Cdc Fourteen Early Anaphase Release (FEAR) pathway. PP2A(Cdc55) prevents nucleolar release of the Cdk (Cyclin-dependent kinase)-antagonising phosphatase Cdc14 by counteracting phosphorylation of the nucleolar protein Net1 by Cdk. CDC55 was identified in a genetic screen for monopolins performed by isolating suppressors of spo11Δ spo12Δ lethality suggesting that Cdc55 might have a role in meiotic chromosome segregation. We investigated this possibility by isolating cdc55 alleles that suppress spo11Δ spo12Δ lethality and show that this suppression is independent of PP2A(Cdc55)’s FEAR function. Although the suppressor mutations in cdc55 affect reductional chromosome segregation in the absence of recombination, they have no effect on chromosome segregation during wild type meiosis. We suggest that Cdc55 is required for reductional chromosome segregation during achiasmate meiosis and this is independent of its FEAR function.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Enzyme, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Chromatid


Chromosomes are dynamic structures that must be reversibly condensed and unfolded to accommodate mitotic division and chromosome segregation. Histone modifications are involved in the striking chromatin reconfiguration taking place during mitosis. However, the mechanisms that regulate activity and function of histone-modifying factors as cells enter and exit mitosis are poorly understood. Here, we show that the anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C) is involved in the mitotic turnover of TRRAP (TRansformation/tRanscription domain-Associated Protein), a common component of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) complexes, and that the pre-mitotic degradation of TRRAP is mediated by the APC/C ubiquitin ligase activators Cdc20 and Cdh1. Ectopic expression of both Cdh1 and Cdc20 reduced the levels of coexpressed TRRAP protein and induced its ubiquitination. TRRAP overexpression or stabilization induces multiple mitotic defects, including lagging chromosomes, chromosome bridges and multipolar spindles. In addition, lack of sister chromatid cohesion and impaired chromosome condensation were found after TRRAP overexpression or stabilization. By using a truncated form of TRRAP, we show that mitotic delay is associated with a global histone H4 hyperacetylation induced by TRRAP overexpression. These results demonstrate that the chromatin modifier TRRAP is targeted for destruction in a cell cycle-dependent fashion. They also suggest that degradation of TRRAP by the APC/C is necessary for a proper condensation of chromatin and proper chromosome segregation. Chromatin compaction mediated by histone modifiers may represent a fundamental arm for APC/C orchestration of the mitotic machinery.Oncogene advance online publication, 14 January 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.570.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Histone, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Chromatin, Chromatid


The cyclin-dependent kinase CDK11(p58) is specifically expressed at G2/M phase. CDK11(p58) depletion leads to different cell cycle defects such as mitotic arrest, failure in centriole duplication and centrosome maturation, and premature sister chromatid separation. We report that upon CDK11 depletion, loss of sister chromatid cohesion occurs during mitosis but not during G2 phase. CDK11(p58) depletion prevents Bub1 and Shugoshin 1 recruitment but has no effect on the dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 4 at centromeres. We also report that a construct expressing a kinase dead version of CDK11(p58) fails to prevent CDK11 depletion-induced sister chromatid separation, showing that CDK11(p58) kinase activity is required for protection of sister chromatid cohesion at centromeres during mitosis. Thus, CDK11(p58) kinase activity appears to be involved in early events in the establishment of the centromere protection machinery.

Concepts: Histone, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Chromatid, Sister chromatids


The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) ensures the accurate segregation of sister chromatids during mitosis. Activation of the SAC occurs through a series of ordered molecular events that result in recruitment of Mad1:Mad2 complexes to improperly attached kinetochores. The current model involves sequential phospho-dependent recruitment of Bub3:Bub1 to KNL1 followed by binding of Mad1:Mad2 to Bub1. Here, we show in non-transformed diploid human cells that the KNL1-Bub3-Bub1 (KBB) pathway is required during normal mitotic progression when kinetochores are misaligned but is nonessential for SAC activation and Mad2 loading when kinetochores are unattached from microtubules. We provide evidence that the Rod-ZW10-Zwilch (RZZ) complex is necessary to recruit Mad1:Mad2 to, and delay anaphase onset in response to, unattached kinetochores independently of the KBB pathway. These data suggest that the KBB and RZZ complexes provide two distinct kinetochore receptors for Mad1:Mad2 and reveal mechanistic differences between SAC activation by unattached and improperly attached kinetochores.

Concepts: Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Spindle apparatus, Chromatid, Spindle checkpoint


The pairing behaviour of the individual chromosome arms of Hordeum vulgare (Hv) with their homoeologous arms of H. bulbosum (Hb) at metaphase I of meiosis in tetraploid Hb × Hv hybrids and the frequencies of recombined Hv chromosome arms in selfed offspring were studied on differentially visualized chromosomes after fluorescent in situ hybridisation. The frequencies of paired Hv-Hb arms in the F2 and F3 hybrids were correlated with the frequencies of recombined Hv chromosomes in progenies. Self-generation of hybrids, the number of Hv and Hb chromosomes, and the number of recombined Hv chromosomes of the hybrids strongly influenced the Hv-Hb pairing frequency in meiosis. Within the offspring of F2 and F3 hybrids both Hv plants and hybrids were detected. In contrast, all progenies of the F4 hybrid were hybrids which exhibited centromere misdivisions. The highest frequencies of homoeologous pairing in hybrids and most recombinants were obtained for the barley chromosome 1HL. Recombinants for 4HL, 5HS, 6HS, and 7HS were rarely found. Meiotic pairing and recombinants involving chromosome 1HS were never observed. The results of this study demonstrate that fertile tetraploid interspecific hybrids with a high intergenomic pairing at meiosis are valuable basic material for introgression breeding in barley.

Concepts: Eukaryote, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Polyploidy, Chromatid


Sister chromatid cohesion mediated by the cohesin complex is essential for chromosome segregation in mitosis and meiosis [1]. Rec8-containing cohesin, bound to Smc3/Smc1α or Smc3/Smc1β, maintains bivalent cohesion in mammalian meiosis [2-6]. In females, meiotic DNA replication and recombination occur in fetal oocytes. After birth, oocytes arrest at the prolonged dictyate stage until recruited to grow into mature oocytes that divide at ovulation. How cohesion is maintained in arrested oocytes remains a pivotal question relevant to maternal age-related aneuploidy. Hypothetically, cohesin turnover regenerates cohesion in oocytes. Evidence for post-replicative cohesion establishment mechanism exists, in yeast and invertebrates [7, 8]. In mouse fetal oocytes, cohesin loading factor Nipbl/Scc2 localizes to chromosome axes during recombination [9, 10]. Alternatively, cohesion is maintained without turnover. Consistent with this, cohesion maintenance does not require Smc1β transcription, but unlike Rec8, Smc1β is not required for establishing bivalent cohesion [11, 12]. Rec8 maintains cohesion without turnover during weeks of oocyte growth [3]. Whether the same applies to months or decades of arrest is unknown. Here, we test whether Rec8 activated in arrested mouse oocytes builds cohesion revealed by TEV cleavage and live-cell imaging. Rec8 establishes cohesion when activated during DNA replication in fetal oocytes using tamoxifen-inducible Cre. In contrast, no new cohesion is detected when Rec8 is activated in arrested oocytes by tamoxifen despite cohesin synthesis. We conclude that cohesion established in fetal oocytes is maintained for months without detectable turnover in dictyate-arrested oocytes. This implies that women’s fertility depends on the longevity of cohesin proteins that established cohesion in utero.

Concepts: DNA, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Oocyte, Chromatid


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


Chromosome segregation errors in mammalian oocytes compromise development and are particularly prevalent in older females, but the aging-related cellular changes that promote segregation errors remain unclear [1, 2]. Aging causes a loss of meiotic chromosome cohesion, which can explain premature disjunction of sister chromatids [3-7], but why intact sister pairs should missegregate in meiosis-I (termed non-disjunction) remains unknown. Here, we show that oocytes from naturally aged mice exhibit substantially altered spindle microtubule dynamics, resulting in transiently multipolar spindles that predispose the oocytes to kinetochore-microtubule attachment defects and missegregation of intact sister chromatid pairs. Using classical micromanipulation approaches, including reciprocally transferring nuclei between young and aged oocytes, we show that altered microtubule dynamics are not attributable to age-related chromatin changes. We therefore report that altered microtubule dynamics is a novel primary lesion contributing to age-related oocyte segregation errors. We propose that, whereas cohesion loss can explain premature sister separation, classical non-disjunction is instead explained by altered microtubule dynamics, leading to aberrant spindle assembly.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Chromatid, Sister chromatids


The mechanism by which chromatids and chromosomes are segregated during mitosis and meiosis is a major puzzle of biology and biophysics. Using polymer simulations of chromosome dynamics, we show that a single mechanism of loop extrusion by condensins can robustly compact, segregate and disentangle chromosomes, arriving at individualized chromatids with morphology observed in vivo. Our model resolves the paradox of topological simplification concomitant with chromosome ‘condensation’, and explains how enzymes a few nanometers in size are able to control chromosome geometry and topology at micron length scales. We suggest that loop extrusion is a universal mechanism of genome folding that mediates functional interactions during interphase and compacts chromosomes during mitosis.

Concepts: Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Topology, Mitosis, Meiosis, Compact space, Chromatid