Microtubules are generated at centrosomes, chromosomes, and within spindles during cell division. Whereas microtubule nucleation at the centrosome is well characterized, much remains unknown about where, when, and how microtubules are nucleated at chromosomes. To address these questions, we reconstitute microtubule nucleation from purified chromosomes in meiotic Xenopus egg extract and find that chromosomes alone can form spindles. We visualize microtubule nucleation near chromosomes using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to find that this occurs through branching microtubule nucleation. By inhibiting molecular motors, we find that the organization of the resultant polar branched networks is consistent with a theoretical model where the effectors for branching nucleation are released by chromosomes, forming a concentration gradient that spatially biases branching microtbule nucleation. In the presence of motors, these branched networks are ultimately organized into functional spindles, where the number of emergent spindle poles scales with the number of chromosomes and total chromatin area.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)