The Ndc80 kinetochore complex directly modulates microtubule dynamics

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 2;109(40):16113-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209615109. Epub 2012 Aug 20.


The conserved Ndc80 complex is an essential microtubule-binding component of the kinetochore. Recent findings suggest that the Ndc80 complex influences microtubule dynamics at kinetochores in vivo. However, it was unclear if the Ndc80 complex mediates these effects directly, or by affecting other factors localized at the kinetochore. Using a reconstituted system in vitro, we show that the human Ndc80 complex directly stabilizes the tips of disassembling microtubules and promotes rescue (the transition from microtubule shortening to growth). In vivo, an N-terminal domain in the Ndc80 complex is phosphorylated by the Aurora B kinase. Mutations that mimic phosphorylation of the Ndc80 complex prevent stable kinetochore-microtubule attachment, and mutations that block phosphorylation damp kinetochore oscillations. We find that the Ndc80 complex with Aurora B phosphomimetic mutations is defective at promoting microtubule rescue, even when robustly coupled to disassembling microtubule tips. This impaired ability to affect dynamics is not simply because of weakened microtubule binding, as an N-terminally truncated complex with similar binding affinity is able to promote rescue. Taken together, these results suggest that in addition to regulating attachment stability, Aurora B controls microtubule dynamics through phosphorylation of the Ndc80 complex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aurora Kinase B
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Chromosome Segregation / physiology*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetochores / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • NDC80 protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • AURKB protein, human
  • Aurora Kinase B
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases