NuMA is a component of an insoluble matrix at mitotic spindle poles

Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1999;42(3):189-203. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0169(1999)42:3<189::AID-CM3>3.0.CO;2-X.


NuMA associates with microtubule motors during mitosis to perform an essential role in organizing microtubule minus ends at spindle poles. Using immunogold electron microscopy, we show that NuMA is a component of an electron-dense material concentrated at both mitotic spindle poles in PtK1 cells and the core of microtubule asters formed through a centrosome-independent mechanism in cell-free mitotic extracts. This NuMA-containing material is distinct from the peri-centriolar material and forms a matrix that appears to anchor microtubule ends at the spindle pole. In stark contrast to conventional microtubule-associated proteins whose solubility is directly dependent on microtubules, we find that once NuMA is incorporated into this matrix either in vivo or in vitro, it becomes insoluble and this insolubility is no longer dependent on microtubules. NuMA is essential for the formation of this insoluble matrix at the core of mitotic asters assembled in vitro because the matrix is absent from mitotic asters assembled in a cell-free mitotic extract that is specifically depleted of NuMA. These physical properties are consistent with NuMA being a component of the putative mitotic spindle matrix in vertebrate cells. Furthermore, given that NuMA is essential for spindle pole organization in vertebrate systems, it is likely that this insoluble matrix plays an essential structural function in anchoring and/or stabilizing microtubule minus ends at spindle poles in mitotic cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Blotting, Western
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kinesin / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Microtubules / chemistry
  • Nocodazole / pharmacology
  • Nuclear Matrix-Associated Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins / immunology
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology*
  • Spindle Apparatus / chemistry*
  • Spindle Apparatus / ultrastructure
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Xenopus Proteins*


  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • KIF11 protein, Xenopus
  • MAP4
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • NUMA1 protein, Xenopus
  • NUMA1 protein, human
  • Nuclear Matrix-Associated Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • Kinesin
  • Nocodazole