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Length-dependent anisotropic scaling of spindle shape

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    Rights statement: © 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-23
Number of pages7
JournalBiology Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Spindle length varies dramatically across species and during early development to segregate chromosomes optimally. Both intrinsic factors, such as regulatory molecules, and extrinsic factors, such as cytoplasmic volume, determine spindle length scaling. However, the properties that govern spindle shape and whether these features can be modulated remain unknown. Here, we analyzed quantitatively how the molecular players which regulate microtubule dynamics control the kinetics of spindle formation and shape. We find that, in absence of Clasp1 and Clasp2, spindle assembly is biphasic due to unopposed inward pulling forces from the kinetochore-fibers and that kinetochore-fibers also alter spindle geometry. We demonstrate that spindle shape scaling is independent of the nature of the molecules that regulate dynamic microtubule properties, but is dependent on the steady-state metaphase spindle length. The shape of the spindle scales anisotropically with increasing length. Our results suggest that intrinsic mechanisms control the shape of the spindle to ensure the efficient capture and alignment of chromosomes independently of spindle length.

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