Microtubule (MT) nucleation not only occurs from centrosomes, but also in large part from dispersed nucleation sites. The subsequent sorting of short MTs into networks like the mitotic spindle requires molecular motors that laterally slide overlapping MTs and bundling proteins that statically connect MTs. How bundling proteins interfere with MT sliding is unclear. In bipolar MT bundles in fission yeast, we found that the bundler ase1p localized all along the length of antiparallel MTs, whereas the motor klp2p (kinesin-14) accumulated only at MT plus ends. Consequently, sliding forces could only overcome resistant bundling forces for short, newly nucleated MTs, which were transported to their correct position within bundles. Ase1p thus regulated sliding forces based on polarity and overlap length, and computer simulations showed these mechanisms to be sufficient to generate stable bipolar bundles. By combining motor and bundling proteins, cells can thus dynamically organize stable regions of overlap between cytoskeletal filaments. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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