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Concept: Chromatid


The frequency of chromosome segregation errors during meiosis I (MI) in oocytes increases with age. The two-hit model suggests that errors are caused by the combination of a first hit that creates susceptible crossover configurations and a second hit comprising an age-related reduction in chromosome cohesion. This model predicts an age-related increase in univalents, but direct evidence of this phenomenon as a major cause of segregation errors has been lacking. Here, we provide the first live analysis of single chromosomes undergoing segregation errors during MI in the oocytes of naturally aged mice. Chromosome tracking reveals that 80% of the errors are preceded by bivalent separation into univalents. The set of the univalents is biased towards balanced and unbalanced predivision of sister chromatids during MI. Moreover, we find univalents predisposed to predivision in human oocytes. This study defines premature bivalent separation into univalents as the primary defect responsible for age-related aneuploidy.

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


Centromeres are essential for accurate chromosome segregation, yet sequence conservation is low even among closely related species. Centromere drive predicts rapid turnover because some centromeric sequences may compete better than others during female meiosis. In addition to sequence composition, longer centromeres may have a transmission advantage.

Concepts: DNA, Evolution, Species, Chromosome, Centromere, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Chromatid


Sister chromatid cohesion, mediated by the cohesin complex, is essential for faithful mitosis. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the surveillance mechanism that governs mitotic fidelity, the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), is not robust enough to halt cell division when cohesion loss occurs prematurely. The mechanism behind this poor response is not properly understood. Using developing Drosophila brains, we show that full sister chromatid separation elicits a weak checkpoint response resulting in abnormal mitotic exit after a short delay. Quantitative live-cell imaging approaches combined with mathematical modeling indicate that weak SAC activation upon cohesion loss is caused by weak signal generation. This is further attenuated by several feedback loops in the mitotic signaling network. We propose that multiple feedback loops involving cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) gradually impair error-correction efficiency and accelerate mitotic exit upon premature loss of cohesion. Our findings explain how cohesion defects may escape SAC surveillance.

Concepts: Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Spindle apparatus, Chromatid, Sister chromatids


The chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) is directed to centromeres during mitosis via binding to H3T3ph and Sgo1. Whether and how heterochromatin protein 1α (HP1α) influences CPC localisation and function during mitotic entry is less clear. Here, we alter HP1α dynamics by fusing it to a CENP-B DNA-binding domain. Tethered HP1 strongly recruits the CPC, destabilising kinetochore-microtubule interactions and activating the spindle assembly checkpoint. During mitotic exit, the tethered HP1 traps active CPC at centromeres. These HP1-CPC clusters remain catalytically active throughout the subsequent cell cycle. We also detect interactions between endogenous HP1 and the CPC during G2HP1α and HP1γ cooperate to recruit the CPC to active foci in a CDK1-independent process. Live cell tracking with Fab fragments reveals that H3S10ph appears well before H3T3 is phosphorylated by Haspin kinase. Our results suggest that HP1 may concentrate and activate the CPC at centromeric heterochromatin in G2before Aurora B-mediated phosphorylation of H3S10 releases HP1 from chromatin and allows pathways dependent on H3T3ph and Sgo1 to redirect the CPC to mitotic centromeres.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Chromatid


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


We designed a system to determine whether dicentric chromosomes in Drosophila melanogaster break at random or at preferred sites. Sister chromatid exchange in a Ring-X chromosome produced dicentric chromosomes with two bridging arms connecting segregating centromeres as cells divide. This double bridge can break in mitosis. A genetic screen recovered chromosomes that were linearized by breakage in the male germline. Because the screen required viability of males with this X chromosome, the breakpoints in each arm of the double bridge must be closely matched to produce a nearly-euploid chromosome. We expected most linear chromosomes would be broken in heterochromatin because there are no vital genes in heterochromatin and breakpoint distribution would be relatively unconstrained. Surprisingly, approximately half of the breakpoints are found in euchromatin, and the breakpoints are clustered in just a few regions of the chromosome that closely match regions identified as intercalary heterochromatin. The results support the “Laird hypothesis” that intercalary heterochromatin can explain fragile sites in mitotic chromosomes, including Fragile X. Opened rings were also recovered after male larvae were exposed to X-rays. This method was much less efficient and produced chromosomes with a strikingly different array of breakpoints, with almost all in heterochromatin. A series of circularly permuted linear X chromosomes was generated that may be useful for investigating aspects of chromosome behavior, such as crossover distribution and interference in meiosis, or questions of nuclear organization and function.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Drosophila melanogaster, Chromatid


The first meiotic division in human oocytes is highly error-prone and contributes to the uniquely high incidence of aneuploidy observed in human pregnancies. A successful meiosis I division entails separation of homologous chromosome pairs and co-segregation of sister chromatids. For this to happen, sister kinetochores must form attachments to spindle kinetochore-fibres emanating from the same pole. In mouse and budding yeast, sister kinetochores remain closely associated with each other during meiosis I, enabling them to act as a single unified structure. However, whether this arrangement also applies in human meiosis I oocytes is unclear. In this study, we perform high-resolution imaging of over 1900 kinetochores in human oocytes, to examine the geometry and architecture of the human meiotic kinetochore. We reveal that sister kinetochores in meiosis I are not physically fused, and instead individual kinetochores within a pair are capable of forming independent attachments to spindle k-fibres. Notably, with increasing female age, the separation between kinetochores increases suggesting a degradation of centromeric cohesion. Our data suggests that the differential arrangement of sister kinetochores and dual k-fibre attachments may explain the high proportion of unstable attachments that form in MI and thus indicate why human oocytes are prone to aneuploidy, particularly with increasing maternal age.

Concepts: Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Chromatid, Homologous chromosome


Maintenance and precise regulation of sister chromatid cohesion is essential for faithful chromosome segregation during mitosis and meiosis. Cohesin cofactors contribute to cohesin dynamics and interact with cohesin complexes during cell cycle. One of these, PDS5, also known as SPO76, is essential during mitosis and meiosis in several organisms and also plays a role in DNA repair. In yeast, the complex Wapl-Pds5 controls cohesion maintenance and colocalizes with cohesin complexes into chromosomes. In Arabidopsis, AtWAPL proteins are essential during meiosis, however, the role of AtPDS5 remains to be ascertained. Here we have isolated mutants for each of the five AtPDS5 genes (A-E) and obtained, after different crosses between them, double, triple, and even quadruple mutants (Atpds5a Atpds5b Atpds5c Atpds5e). Depletion of AtPDS5 proteins has a weak impact on meiosis, but leads to severe effects on development, fertility, somatic homologous recombination (HR) and DNA repair. Furthermore, this cohesin cofactor could be important for the function of the AtSMC5/AtSMC6 complex. Contrarily to its function in other species, our results suggest that AtPDS5 is dispensable during the meiotic division of Arabidopsis, although it plays an important role in DNA repair by HR.

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