A Regulatory Switch Alters Chromosome Motions at the Metaphase-to-Anaphase Transition

Cell Rep. 2016 Nov 8;17(7):1728-1738. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.10.046.


To achieve chromosome segregation during mitosis, sister chromatids must undergo a dramatic change in their behavior to switch from balanced oscillations at the metaphase plate to directed poleward motion during anaphase. However, the factors that alter chromosome behavior at the metaphase-to-anaphase transition remain incompletely understood. Here, we perform time-lapse imaging to analyze anaphase chromosome dynamics in human cells. Using multiple directed biochemical, genetic, and physical perturbations, our results demonstrate that differences in the global phosphorylation states between metaphase and anaphase are the major determinant of chromosome motion dynamics. Indeed, causing a mitotic phosphorylation state to persist into anaphase produces dramatic metaphase-like oscillations. These induced oscillations depend on both kinetochore-derived and polar ejection forces that oppose poleward motion. Thus, our analysis of anaphase chromosome motion reveals that dephosphorylation of multiple mitotic substrates is required to suppress metaphase chromosome oscillatory motions and achieve directed poleward motion for successful chromosome segregation.

Keywords: chromokinesin; kinetochore; microtubule; mitosis; phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anaphase* / drug effects
  • Chromatids / metabolism
  • Chromosomes, Human / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Kinetochores / drug effects
  • Kinetochores / metabolism
  • Metaphase* / drug effects
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement
  • Okadaic Acid / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects


  • Okadaic Acid