Yeast use the ring-shaped Dam1 complex to slide down depolymerizing microtubules to move chromosomes, but current models suggest that other eukaryotes do not have a sliding ring. We visualized Ndc80 and Ska complexes on microtubules by electron microscopic tomography to identify the structure of the human kinetochore-microtubule attachment. Ndc80 recruits the Ska complex so that the V shape of the Ska dimer interacts along protofilaments. We identify a mutant of the Ndc80 tail that is deficient in Ska recruitment to kinetochores and in orienting Ska along protofilaments in vitro. This mutant Ndc80 binds microtubules with normal affinity but is deficient in clustering along protofilaments. We propose that Ska is recruited to kinetochores by clusters of Ndc80 proteins and that our structure of Ndc80 and Ska complexes on microtubules suggests a mechanism for metazoan kinetochores to couple the depolymerization of microtubules to power the movement of chromosomes.
Keywords: Hec1; Ndc80 complex; Ska complex; cell division; kinetochore; microtubule; mitosis; mitotic spindle.
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