Actin protects mammalian eggs against chromosome segregation errors

Science. 2017 Aug 25;357(6353):eaal1647. doi: 10.1126/science.aal1647.


Chromosome segregation is driven by a spindle that is made of microtubules but is generally thought to be independent of actin. Here, we report an unexpected actin-dependent mechanism that drives the accurate alignment and segregation of chromosomes in mammalian eggs. Prominent actin filaments permeated the microtubule spindle in eggs of several mammalian species, including humans. Disrupting actin in mouse eggs led to significantly increased numbers of misaligned chromosomes as well as lagging chromosomes during meiosis I and II. We found that actin drives accurate chromosome segregation by promoting the formation of functional kinetochore fibers, the microtubule bundles that align and segregate the chromosomes. Thus, actin is essential to prevent chromosome segregation errors in eggs, which are a leading cause of miscarriages, infertility, and Down syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / genetics
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Actins / genetics
  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Anaphase
  • Animals
  • Chromosome Segregation*
  • Down Syndrome / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infertility / genetics
  • Kinetochores / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Ovum / cytology*
  • Ovum / metabolism
  • Sheep
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism
  • Swine


  • Actins