Constitutive centromere-associated network (CCAN) proteins, particularly CENP-C, CENP-T, and the CENP-H/-I complex, mechanically link CENP-A-containing centromeric chromatin within the inner kinetochore to outer kinetochore proteins, such as the Ndc80 complex, that bind kinetochore microtubules. Accuracy of chromosome segregation depends critically upon Aurora B phosphorylation of Ndc80/Hec1. To determine how CCAN protein architecture mechanically constrains intrakinetochore stretch between CENP-A and Ndc80/Hec1 for proper Ndc80/Hec1 phosphorylation, we used super-resolution fluorescence microscopy and selective protein depletion. We found that at bi-oriented chromosomes in late prometaphase cells, CENP-T is stretched ∼16 nm to the inner end of Ndc80/Hec1, much less than expected for full-length CENP-T. Depletion of various CCAN linker proteins induced hyper-intrakinetochore stretch (an additional 20-60 nm) with corresponding significant decreases in Aurora B phosphorylation of Ndc80/Hec1. Thus, proper intrakinetochore stretch is required for normal kinetochore function and depends critically on all the CCAN mechanical linkers to the Ndc80 complex.
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