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Concept: Spindle checkpoint


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 Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC) ensures genomic stability by preventing sister chromatid separation until all chromosomes are attached to the spindle. It catalyzes the production of the Mitotic Checkpoint Complex (MCC), which inhibits Cdc20 to inactivate the Anaphase Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C). Here we show that two Cdc20-binding motifs in BubR1 of the recently identified ABBA motif class are crucial for the MCC to recognize active APC/C-Cdc20. Mutating these motifs eliminates MCC binding to the APC/C, thereby abolishing the SAC and preventing cells from arresting in response to microtubule poisons. These ABBA motifs flank a KEN box to form a cassette that is highly conserved through evolution, both in the arrangement and spacing of the ABBA-KEN-ABBA motifs, and association with the amino-terminal KEN box required to form the MCC. We propose that the ABBA-KEN-ABBA cassette holds the MCC onto the APC/C by binding the two Cdc20 molecules in the MCC-APC/C complex.

Concepts: DNA, Evolution, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Metaphase, Spindle apparatus, Anaphase-promoting complex, Spindle checkpoint


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


Germline mutations in BUB1 and BUB3 have been reported to increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC) at young age, in presence of variegated aneuploidy and reminiscent dysmorphic traits of mosaic variegated aneuploidy syndrome. We performed a mutational analysis of BUB1 and BUB3 in 456 uncharacterized mismatch repair-proficient hereditary non-polyposis CRC families and 88 polyposis cases. Four novel or rare germline variants, one splice-site and three missense, were identified in four families. Neither variegated aneuploidy nor dysmorphic traits were observed in carriers. Evident functional effects in the heterozygous form were observed for c.1965-1G>A, but not for c.2296G>A (p.E766K), in spite of the positive co-segregation in the family. BUB1 c.2473C>T (p.P825S) and BUB3 c.77C>T (p.T26I) remained as variants of uncertain significance. As of today, the rarity of functionally relevant mutations identified in familial and/or early onset series does not support the inclusion of BUB1 and BUB3 testing in routine genetic diagnostics of familial CRC.

Concepts: Genetics, Cancer, Mutation, Colorectal cancer, Cell cycle, Spindle apparatus, Spindle checkpoint, BUB3


Mouse oocytes carrying DNA damage arrest in meiosis I, thereby preventing creation of embryos with deleterious mutations. The arrest is dependent on the spindle assembly checkpoint, which results in anaphase-promoting complex (APC) inhibition. However, little is understood about how this checkpoint is engaged following DNA damage. Here, we find that within minutes DNA damage assembles checkpoint proteins at the kinetochore, not at damage sites along chromosome arms, such that the APC is fully inhibited within 30 min. Despite this robust response, there is no measurable loss in k-fibres, or tension across the bivalent. Through pharmacological inhibition we observed the response is dependent on Mps1 kinase, Aurora kinase, and haspin. Using oocyte specific knockouts we find the response does not require the DNA damage response kinases ATM or ATR. Furthermore, checkpoint activation does not occur in response to DNA damage in fully mature eggs during meiosis II, despite the divisions being separated by just a few hours. Therefore, mouse oocytes have a unique ability to sense DNA damage rapidly by activating the checkpoint at their kinetochores.

Concepts: DNA, Mutation, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Spindle checkpoint


Faithful chromosome segregation during mitosis depends on the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), which delays progression through mitosis until every chromosome has stably attached to spindle microtubules via the kinetochore. We show here that the deubiquitinase USP9X strengthens the SAC by antagonizing the turnover of the mitotic checkpoint complex produced at unattached kinetochores. USP9X thereby opposes activation of anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) and specifically inhibits the mitotic degradation of SAC-controlled APC/C substrates. We demonstrate that depletion or loss of USP9X reduces the effectiveness of the SAC, elevates chromosome segregation defects, and enhances chromosomal instability (CIN). These findings provide a rationale to explain why loss of USP9X could be either pro- or anti-tumorigenic depending on the existing level of CIN.

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


The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) prevents chromosome missegregation by coupling anaphase onset with correct chromosome attachment and tension to microtubules. It does this by generating a diffusible signal from free kinetochores into the cytoplasm, inhibiting the anaphase-promoting complex (APC). The volume in which this signal remains effective is unknown. This raises the possibility that cell volume may be the reason the SAC is weak, and chromosome segregation error-prone, in mammalian oocytes. Here, by a process of serial bisection, we analyzed the influence of oocyte volume on the ability of the SAC to inhibit bivalent segregation in meiosis I. We were able to generate oocytes with cytoplasmic volumes reduced by 86% and observed changes in APC activity consistent with increased SAC control. However, bivalent biorientation remained uncoupled from APC activity, leading to error-prone chromosome segregation. We conclude that volume is one factor contributing to SAC weakness in oocytes. However, additional factors likely uncouple chromosome biorientation with APC activity.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cell, Eukaryote, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Kinetochore, Spindle checkpoint


Accurate chromosome segregation is dependent on the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). In current models, the key direct role of Aurora B in the SAC has been suggested to be to promote rapid kinetochore localisation of MPS1, allowing MPS1 to generate the checkpoint signal. However, Aurora B is also thought to play an indirect role in the SAC through the destabilisation of kinetochore-microtubule (KT-MT) attachments. Here, we demonstrate that Aurora B activity is not required for the kinetochore recruitment of the majority of SAC proteins. More importantly, we show that the primary role of Aurora B in the SAC is to prevent the premature removal of SAC proteins from the kinetochore, which is strictly dependent on KT-MT interactions. Moreover, in the presence of KT-MT interactions, Aurora B inhibition silences a persistent SAC induced by tethering MPS1 to the kinetochore. This explains the highly synergistic interaction between Aurora B and MPS1 inhibitors to override the SAC, which is lost when cells are pre-arrested in nocodazole. Furthermore, we show that Aurora B and MPS1 inhibitors synergistically kill a panel of breast and colon cancer cell lines, including cells that are otherwise insensitive to Aurora B inhibitors alone. These data demonstrate that the major role of Aurora B in SAC is to prevent the removal of SAC proteins from tensionless kinetochores, thus inhibiting premature SAC silencing, and highlights a therapeutic strategy through combination of Aurora B and MPS1 inhibitors.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cancer, Interaction, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Inhibitor, Kinetochore, Spindle checkpoint


The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) is a key mechanism to regulate the timing of mitosis and ensure that chromosomes are correctly segregated to daughter cells. The recruitment of the Mad1 and Mad2 proteins to the kinetochore is normally necessary for SAC activation. This recruitment is coordinated by the SAC kinase Mps1, which phosphorylates residues at the kinetochore to facilitate binding of Bub1, Bub3, Mad1 and Mad2. There is evidence that the essential function of Mps1 is to direct recruitment of Mad1/2. To test this model we have systematically recruited Mad1, Mad2 and Mps1 to most proteins in the yeast kinetochore and find that while Mps1 is sufficient for checkpoint activation, recruitment of either Mad1 or Mad2 is not. These data indicate an important role for Mps1 phosphorylation in SAC activation, beyond the direct recruitment of Mad1 and Mad2.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cell cycle, Phosphorylation, Mitosis, Kinetochore, Spindle apparatus, Spindle checkpoint, BUB3


The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) prevents aneuploidy by coupling anaphase onset, through anaphase-promoting complex (APC) activation, with chromosome attachment to spindle microtubules. Here, we examine APC activity in oocytes, noted for their susceptibility to chromosome mis-segregation during the first meiotic division (MI). We find that MI oocytes only contain sub-maximal APC activity, measured through cyclin B1-GFP degradation, because inhibition of SAC proteins when the APC is normally fully active increases cyclin B1 degradation twofold and reduces the length of this division by 2 h. In addition, inhibiting the SAC component Mps1 only when the APC is already active increases aneuploidy rates in the resulting egg by up to 30%. We therefore establish that the activities of SAC proteins and the APC co-exist in oocytes, and such concurrence has a vital role in reducing aneuploidy rates by extending MI, probably by allowing time for numerous erroneous microtubule attachments to be corrected.

Concepts: Eukaryote, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Meiosis, Spindle apparatus, Anaphase-promoting complex, Spindle checkpoint