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.