Cell division with partitioning of the genetic material should take place only when paired chromosomes named bivalents (meiosis I) or sister chromatids (mitosis and meiosis II) are correctly attached to the bipolar spindle in a tension-generating manner. For this to happen, the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) checks whether unattached kinetochores are present, in which case anaphase onset is delayed to permit further establishment of attachments. Additionally, microtubules are stabilized when they are attached and under tension. In mitosis, attachments not under tension activate the so-named error correction pathway depending on Aurora B kinase substrate phosphorylation. This leads to microtubule detachments, which in turn activates the SAC [1–3]. Meiotic divisions in mammalian oocytes are highly error prone, with severe consequences for fertility and health of the offspring [4, 5]. Correct attachment of chromosomes in meiosis I leads to the generation of stretched bivalents, but—unlike mitosis—not to tension between sister kinetochores, which co-orient. Here, we set out to address whether reduction of tension applied by the spindle on bioriented bivalents activates error correction and, as a consequence, the SAC. Treatment of oocytes in late prometaphase I with Eg5 kinesin inhibitor affects spindle tension, but not attachments, as we show here using an optimized protocol for confocal imaging. After Eg5 inhibition, bivalents are correctly aligned but less stretched, and as a result, Aurora-B/C-dependent error correction with microtubule detachment takes place. This loss of attachments leads to SAC activation. Crucially, SAC activation itself does not require Aurora B/C kinase activity in oocytes. Vallot et al. show that even though meiosis I is highly error prone in oocytes, they are able to recognize whether paired chromosome attachments are under stretch. If this is not the case, Aurora-B/C-dependent error correction takes place, leading to a SAC-induced cell-cycle delay. Crucially, SAC activation itself does not require Aurora B/C kinase.
Vallot, A., Leontiou, I., Cladière, D., El Yakoubi, W., Bolte, S., Buffin, E., & Wassmann, K. (2018). Tension-Induced Error Correction and Not Kinetochore Attachment Status Activates the SAC in an Aurora-B/C-Dependent Manner in Oocytes. Current Biology, 28(1), 130-139.e3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.049