To build the spindle at mitosis, motors exert spatially regulated forces on microtubules. We know that dynein pulls on mammalian spindle microtubule minus-ends, and this localized activity at ends is predicted to allow dynein to cluster microtubules into poles. How dynein becomes enriched at minus-ends is not known. Here, we use quantitative imaging and laser ablation to show that NuMA targets dynactin to minus-ends, localizing dynein activity there. NuMA is recruited to new minus-ends independently of dynein and more quickly than dynactin; both NuMA and dynactin display specific, steady-state binding at minus-ends. NuMA localization to minus-ends involves a C-terminal region outside NuMA's canonical microtubule-binding domain and is independent of minus-end binders γ-TuRC, CAMSAP1, and KANSL1/3. Both NuMA's minus-end-binding and dynein-dynactin-binding modules are required to rescue focused, bipolar spindle organization. Thus, NuMA may serve as a mitosis-specific minus-end cargo adaptor, targeting dynein activity to minus-ends to cluster spindle microtubules into poles.
Keywords: Potorous tridactylus; cell biology; dynein; human; microtubule; minus-end; mitosis; spindle.