Dynamic coupling of microtubule ends to kinetochores, built on the centromeres of chromosomes, directs chromosome segregation during cell division. Here, we report that the evolutionarily ancient kinetochore-microtubule coupling machine, the KMN (Knl1/Mis12/Ndc80-complex) network, plays a critical role in neuronal morphogenesis. We show that the KMN network concentrates in microtubule-rich dendrites of developing sensory neurons that collectively extend in a multicellular morphogenetic event that occurs during C. elegans embryogenesis. Post-mitotic degradation of KMN components in sensory neurons disrupts dendritic extension, leading to patterning and functional defects in the sensory nervous system. Structure-guided mutations revealed that the molecular interface that couples kinetochores to spindle microtubules also functions in neuronal development. These results identify a cell-division-independent function for the chromosome-segregation machinery and define a microtubule-coupling-dependent event in sensory nervous system morphogenesis.
Cheerambathur, D. K., Prevo, B., Chow, T. L., Hattersley, N., Wang, S., Zhao, Z., … Desai, A. (2019). The Kinetochore-Microtubule Coupling Machinery Is Repurposed in Sensory Nervous System Morphogenesis. Developmental Cell, 48(6), 864-872.e7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2019.02.002