Gradients in the self-organization of the mitotic spindle

Trends Cell Biol. 2006 Mar;16(3):125-34. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2006.01.005. Epub 2006 Feb 14.


Recent evidence points at a role of protein interaction gradients around chromatin in mitotic spindle morphogenesis in large eukaryotic cells. Here, we explain how gradients can arise over distances of tens of microns around supramolecular structures from mixtures of soluble molecules. We discuss how coupled sets of such reaction diffusion processes generate the spatial information that determines the local dynamics of microtubules required to form a bipolar spindle. We argue that such reaction diffusion processes are involved in the self-organization of supramolecular structures in the cell.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Extracts
  • Centrosome / metabolism
  • Chromosomes / metabolism*
  • Chromosomes / physiology
  • Cytoplasm / physiology*
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / chemistry
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism*
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology
  • Spindle Apparatus / ultrastructure
  • Xenopus laevis / metabolism
  • ran GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism


  • Cell Extracts
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • ran GTP-Binding Protein