We have isolated chromosomes from Chinese hamster ovary cells arrested in mitosis with vinblastine and examined the interactions of their kinetochores with purified tubulin in vitro. The kinetochores nucleate microtubule (MT) growth with complex kinetics. After an initial lag phase, MTs are continuously nucleated with both plus and minus ends distally localized. This mixed polarity seems inconsistent with the formation of an ordered, homopolar kinetochore fiber in vivo. As isolated from vinblastine-arrested cells, kinetochores contain no bound tubulin. The kinetochores of chromosomes isolated from colcemid-arrested cells or of chromosomes incubated with tubulin in vitro are brightly stained after anti-tubulin immunofluorescence. This bound tubulin is probably not in the form of MTs. It is localized to the corona region by immunoelectron microscopy, where it may play a role in MT nucleation in vitro.
We have studied the interaction of preformed microtubules (MTs) with the kinetochores of isolated chromosomes. This reaction, which we call MT capture, results in MTs becoming tightly bound to the kinetochore, with their ends capped against depolymerization. These observations, combined with MT dynamic instability, suggest a model for spindle morphogenesis. In addition, ATP appears to mobilize dynamic processes at captured MT ends. We used biotin-labeled MT seeds to follow assembly dynamics at the kinetochore. In the presence of ATP and unlabeled tubulin, labeled MT segments translocate away from the kinetochore by polymerization of subunits at the attached end. We have termed this reaction proximal assembly. Further studies demonstrated that translocation could be uncoupled from MT assembly. We suggest that the kinetochore contains an ATPase activity that walks along the MT lattice toward the plus end. This activity may be responsible for the movement of chromosomes away from the pole in prometaphase.
Brain tubulin has been conjugated with dichlorotriazinyl-aminofluorescein (DTAF) to form a visualizable complex for the study of tubulin dynamics in living cells. By using several assays we confirm the finding of Keith et al. (Keith, C. H., J. R. Feramisco, and M. Shelanski, 1981, J. Cell Biol., 88:234-240) that DTAF-tubulin polymerizes like control tubulin in vitro. The fluorescein moiety of the complex is readily bleached by the 488-nm line from an argon ion laser. When irradiations are performed over short times (less than 1 s) and in the presence of 2 mM glutathione, a mixture of DTAF-tubulin and control protein (as occurs after microinjection of the fluorescent conjugate into living cells) will retain full polymerization activity. Slow bleaching (approximately 5 min) or bleaching without glutathione promotes formation of covalent cross-links between neighboring polypeptides and kills the polymerization activity of DTAF-tubulin, including some molecules that are neither cross-linked nor bleached. Even under conditions that damage DTAF-tubulin, however, DTAF-microtubules are not destroyed by bleaching. They will continue to elongate by addition of DTAF-tubulin subunits to their free ends, and they neither bind nor exchange subunits along their lateral surfaces. These results suggest that DTAF-tubulin is a suitable analog for tubulin, both in studies of protein incorporation and for investigations of fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching.
Procedures are described for removal of the vitelline membrane from gently fixed Drosophila embryos en masse. The resulting embryos retain excellent structural integrity and are now suitable for a variety of immunocytochemical and biochemical characterizations.