The spindle checkpoint of the cell division cycle senses kinetochores that are not attached to microtubules and prevents precocious onset of anaphase, which can lead to aneuploidy. The nuclear division cycle 80 complex (Ndc80C) is a major microtubule receptor at the kinetochore. Ndc80C also mediates the kinetochore recruitment of checkpoint proteins. We found that the checkpoint protein kinase monopolar spindle 1 (Mps1) directly bound to Ndc80C through two independent interactions. Both interactions involved the microtubule-binding surfaces of Ndc80C and were directly inhibited in the presence of microtubules. Elimination of one such interaction in human cells caused checkpoint defects expected from a failure to detect unattached kinetochores. Competition between Mps1 and microtubules for Ndc80C binding thus constitutes a direct mechanism for the detection of unattached kinetochores.
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