During cell division, microtubules are arranged in a large bipolar structure, the mitotic spindle, to segregate the duplicated chromosomes. Antiparallel microtubule overlaps in the spindle center are essential for establishing bipolarity and maintaining spindle stability throughout mitosis. In anaphase, this antiparallel microtubule array is tightly bundled forming the midzone, which serves as a hub for the recruitment of proteins essential for late mitotic events. The molecular mechanism of midzone formation and the control of its size are not understood. Using an in vitro reconstitution approach, we show here that PRC1 autonomously bundles antiparallel microtubules and recruits Xklp1, a kinesin-4, selectively to overlapping antiparallel microtubules. The processive motor Xklp1 controls overlap size by overlap length-dependent microtubule growth inhibition. Our results mechanistically explain how the two conserved, essential midzone proteins PRC1 and Xklp1 cooperate to constitute a minimal protein module capable of dynamically organizing the core structure of the central anaphase spindle.
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