Mechanical design principles of a mitotic spindle

Elife. 2014 Dec 18;3:e03398. doi: 10.7554/eLife.03398.


An organised spindle is crucial to the fidelity of chromosome segregation, but the relationship between spindle structure and function is not well understood in any cell type. The anaphase B spindle in fission yeast has a slender morphology and must elongate against compressive forces. This 'pushing' mode of chromosome transport renders the spindle susceptible to breakage, as observed in cells with a variety of defects. Here we perform electron tomographic analyses of the spindle, which suggest that it organises a limited supply of structural components to increase its compressive strength. Structural integrity is maintained throughout the spindle's fourfold elongation by organising microtubules into a rigid transverse array, preserving correct microtubule number and dynamically rescaling microtubule length.

Keywords: S. cerevisiae; S. pombe; biophysics; cell biology; cytoskeleton; forces; mitosis; structural biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaphase
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Cycle
  • Chromosome Segregation
  • Compressive Strength
  • Electron Microscope Tomography
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Schizosaccharomyces / physiology*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / ultrastructure
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology*
  • Spindle Apparatus / ultrastructure
  • Time-Lapse Imaging

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.