The proper assembly and operation of the mitotic spindle is essential to ensure the accurate segregation of chromosomes and to position the cytokinetic furrow during cell division in eukaryotes. Not only are dynamic microtubules required but also the concerted actions of multiple motor proteins are necessary to effect spindle pole separation, chromosome alignment, chromatid segregation, and spindle elongation. Although a number of motor proteins are known to play a role in mitosis, there remains a limited understanding of their full range of functions and the details by which they interact with other spindle components. The kinesin-5 (BimC/Eg5) family of motors is largely considered essential to drive spindle pole separation during the initial and latter stages of mitosis. We have deleted the gene encoding the kinesin-5 member in Dictyostelium, (kif13), and find that, in sharp contrast with results found in vertebrate, fly, and yeast organisms, kif13(-) cells continue to grow at rates indistinguishable from wild type. Phenotype analysis reveals a slight increase in spindle elongation rates in the absence of Kif13. More importantly, there is a dramatic, premature separation of spindle halves in kif13(-) cells, suggesting a novel role of this motor in maintaining spindle integrity at the terminal stages of division.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.