During mitosis and meiosis, the spindle assembly checkpoint acts to maintain genome stability by delaying cell division until accurate chromosome segregation can be guaranteed. Accuracy requires that chromosomes become correctly attached to the microtubule spindle apparatus via their kinetochores. When not correctly attached to the spindle, kinetochores activate the spindle assembly checkpoint network, which in turn blocks cell cycle progression. Once all kinetochores become stably attached to the spindle, the checkpoint is inactivated, which alleviates the cell cycle block and thus allows chromosome segregation and cell division to proceed. Here we review recent progress in our understanding of how the checkpoint signal is generated, how it blocks cell cycle progression and how it is extinguished.
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