Force and length in the mitotic spindle

Curr Biol. 2009 Sep 15;19(17):R749-61. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.07.028.


The mitotic spindle assembles to a steady-state length at metaphase through the integrated action of molecular mechanisms that generate and respond to mechanical forces. While molecular mechanisms that produce force have been described, our understanding of how they integrate with each other, and with the assembly/disassembly mechanisms that regulate length, is poor. We review current understanding of the basic architecture and dynamics of the metaphase spindle, and some of the elementary force-producing mechanisms. We then discuss models for force integration and spindle length determination. We also emphasize key missing data that notably include absolute values of forces and how they vary as a function of position within the spindle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Size
  • Elasticity
  • Friction
  • Kinetochores / physiology
  • Kinetochores / ultrastructure
  • Metaphase
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology*
  • Spindle Apparatus / ultrastructure