Checkpoint signals in grasshopper meiosis are sensitive to microtubule attachment, but tension is still essential.
The spindle checkpoint detects errors in kinetochore attachment to microtubules and delays anaphase if attachment is improper. The checkpoint is activated by attachment-sensitive components including Mad2 and certain phosphorylated proteins detected by the 3F3/2 antibody. We have studied Mad2 and 3F3/2 immunofluorescence in grasshopper spermatocytes. As in other cells, unattached kinetochores are loaded with Mad2 and are highly phosphorylated, whereas after proper attachment, Mad2 is lost and kinetochores are dephosphorylated. What is it about proper attachment that produces these changes--is it microtubule attachment itself or is it the tension from mitotic forces that follows proper attachment? Using micromanipulation, we created an intermediate state, weak attachment, that provides an answer. Weakly attached kinetochores are not under tension and have few kinetochore microtubules. Despite the absence of tension, many weakly attached kinetochores lose their Mad2 and become dephosphorylated. Therefore we conclude that microtubule attachment determines both Mad2 binding and phosphorylation. Nevertheless, tension plays an absolutely essential role. Tension elevates the number of kinetochore microtubules to the level necessary for the complete loss of Mad2 and dephosphorylation from all kinetochores. This gives a reliable 'all clear' signal to the checkpoint, allowing the cell to progress to anaphase.
Nicklas, RB; Waters, JC; Salmon, ED; Ward, SC
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