Quantitative initiation of microtubule assembly by chromosomes from Chinese hamster ovary cells

Exp Cell Res. 1978 May;113(2):369-74. doi: 10.1016/0014-4827(78)90377-4.


The microtubule nucleating capacity of chromosomes was tested in vitro in lysates of Chinese hamster ovary cells. Colcemid-blocked mitotic cells were lysed with the detergent Triton X-100, incubated with exogenous porcine brain tubulin, attached to electron microscope grids and observed as whole-mounts. Under suitable conditions, greater than 98% of the chromosomes gave rise to microtubules at their kinetochore regions, thus unequivocally demonstrating that chromosomes are competent to initiate specifically microtubule formation. The average number of microtubules that polymerized onto a chromosome was 8 +/- 5, and greater than 36% of the chromosomes had between 10 and 19 microtubules per kinetochore region. We conclude that under the lysis conditions employed, virtually all the chromosomes retain their kinetochores, and that the kinetochores retain a substantial fraction of their microtubule nucleating capacity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosomes / physiology*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Demecolcine / pharmacology
  • Microtubule Proteins / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure


  • Microtubule Proteins
  • Demecolcine