The kinetochores of Caenorhabditis elegans

Chromosoma. 1982;86(3):409-28. doi: 10.1007/BF00292267.


Light microscopy of the mitotic chromosomes of Caenorhabditis elegans suggests that non-localized kinetochores are present, since the chromosomes appear as stiff rods 1 to 2 micrometers in length and lack any visible constriction. The holokinetic structure was confirmed by reconstructions of electron micrographs of dividing nuclei in serially sectioned embryos. In prophase the kinetochore appears as an amorphous projection approximately 0.18-0.2 micrometer in diameter in cross section and in longitudinal section it appears to be continuous along the chromatin. At prometaphase and metaphase the kinetochore is a convex plaque covering the poleward face of the chromosome and extending the length of the chromosome. In longitudinal section the kinetochore is a trilaminar structure with electron dense inner and outer layers of 0.02 micrometer, and an electron lucent middle layer of 0.03 micrometer. The inner layer is adjacent to a more electron dense region of chromatin. The kinetochore was also seen as a band extending the length of the chromosome in whole mount preparations of chromosomes stained with ethanolic phosphotungstic acid. Most gamma ray induced chromosome fragments segregate normally in embryonic mitoses, but some fragments display aberrant behavior. Similar behavior was seen in embryos carrying a genetically characterized free duplication. It is suggested that mitotic segregation of small fragments may be inefficient because the probability of attachment of microtubules to the kinetochore is proportional to kinetochore length.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Azure Stains
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Cell Division
  • Centromere / ultrastructure*
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Chromosomes / radiation effects
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure*
  • Gamma Rays
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Mitosis


  • Azure Stains
  • Chromatin