Mad2 binding by phosphorylated kinetochores links error detection and checkpoint action in mitosis

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The spindle checkpoint must detect the presence of unattached or improperly attached kinetochores and must then inhibit progression through the cell cycle until the offending condition is resolved. Detection probably involves attachment-sensitive kinetochore phosphorylation (reviewed in [1,2]). A key player in the checkpoint's response is the Mad2 protein, which prevents activation of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC) by the Cdc20 protein [3-8]. Microinjection of Mad2 antibodies results in premature anaphase onset [9,10], and excess Mad2 protein causes arrest in mitosis [5,11]. We have previously shown that Mad2 localizes to unattached kinetochores in vertebrate cells, and that this localization ceases as kinetochores accumulate microtubules [10,12,13]. But how is Mad2 binding limited to unattached kinetochores? Here, we used lysed PtK1 cells to study kinetochore phosphorylation and Mad2 binding. We found that Mad2 binds to phosphorylated kinetochores, but not to unphosphorylated ones. Our data suggest that it is kinetochore protein phosphorylation that promotes Mad2 binding to unattached kinetochores. Thus, we have identified a probable molecular link between attachment-sensitive kinetochore phosphorylation and the inhibition of anaphase. The complete pathway for error control in mitosis can now be outlined.




Waters, J. C., Chen, R. H., Murray, A. W., Gorbsky, G. J., Salmon, E. D., & Nicklas, R. B. (1999). Mad2 binding by phosphorylated kinetochores links error detection and checkpoint action in mitosis. Current Biology, 9(12), 649–652.

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