The mitotic checkpoint: a signaling pathway that allows a single unattached kinetochore to inhibit mitotic exit

Prog Cell Cycle Res. 2003;5:431-9.


The mitotic checkpoint is a failsafe mechanism for the cell to ensure accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis. Mutations in genes encoding essential checkpoint proteins lead to chromosome instability and promote carcinogenesis. The BUB and MAD genes are essential components of the mitotic checkpoint pathway. BUB and MAD inhibit the ubiquitin ligase activity of the Anaphase Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C) during mitosis to ensure cells with unaligned chromosomes do not prematurely enter anaphase. Two models explain how the APC/C is inhibited by the checkpoint. The Sequestration Model postulates that Mad2 and BubR1 bind and sequester Cdc20, an APC/C activator, away from APC/C so substrates whose destruction drives mitotic exit are no longer ubiquitinated. In this model, the unattached kinetochore is postulated to catalytically convert Mad2 to a form that binds Cdc20. In the Direct Inhibition Model, the Mitotic Checkpoint Complex (MCC) consisting of BubR1, Bub3, Mad2 and Cdc20 binds and inhibits the APC/C independently of the kinetochore. However, the "wait anaphase" signal generated by unattached kinetochores sensitizes the APC/C to prolonged inhibition by the MCC. A single unattached kinetochore is proposed to amplify the "wait anaphase" signal through a kinase cascade involving checkpoint kinases such as hBubR1, hBub1 and Mps1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anaphase / genetics*
  • Anaphase-Promoting Complex-Cyclosome
  • Animals
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Genes, cdc / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kinetochores / physiology*
  • Mitosis / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase Complexes / genetics


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase Complexes
  • Anaphase-Promoting Complex-Cyclosome
  • Protein Kinases
  • BUB1 protein, human
  • Bub1 spindle checkpoint protein
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases