Spindle microtubules and their mechanical associations after micromanipulation in anaphase

R. Bruce Nicklas, Donna F. Kubai, Thomas S. Hays

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Micromanipulation of living grasshopper spermatocytes in anaphase has been combined with electron microscopy to reveal otherwise obscure features of spindle organization. A chromosome is pushed laterally outside the spindle and stretched, and the cell is fixed with a novel, agar-treated glutaraldehyde solution. Two- and three-dimensional reconstructions from serial sections of seven cells show that kinetochore microtubules of the manipulated chromosome are shifted outside the confusing thicket of spindle microtubules and mechanical associations among microtubules are revealed by bent or shifted microtubules. These are the chief results: (a) The disposition of microtubules invariably is consistent with a skeletal role for spindle microtubules. (b) The kinetochore microtubule bundle is composed of short and long microtubules, with weak but recognizable mechanical associations among them. Some kinetochore microtubules are more tightly linked to one other microtubule within the bundle. (c) Microtubules of the kinetochore microtubule bundle are firmly connected to other spindle microtubules only near the pole, although some nonkinetochore microtubules of uncertain significance enter the bundle nearer to the kinetochore. (d) The kinetochore microtubules of adjacent chromosomes are mechanically linked, which provides an explanation for interdependent chromosome movement in "hinge anaphases." In the region of the spindle open to analysis after chromosome micromanipulation, microtubules may be linked mechanically by embedment in a gel, rather than by dynein or other specific, cross-bridging molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-104
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 1982


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