In animal cells, faithful chromosome segregation depends on the assembly of a bipolar spindle driven by the timely separation of the two centrosomes. Here we took advantage of the highly stereotypical cell divisions in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos to identify new regulators of centrosome separation. We find that at the two-cell stage, the somatic AB cell initiates centrosome separation later than the germline P1 cell. This difference is strongly exacerbated by the depletion of the kinesin-13 KLP-7/MCAK, resulting in incomplete centrosome separation at NEBD in AB but not P1. Our genetic and cell biology data indicate that this phenotype depends on cell polarity via the enrichment in AB of the mitotic kinase PLK-1, which itself limits the cortical localization of the dynein-binding NuMA orthologue LIN-5. We postulate that the timely separation of centrosomes is regulated in a cell type–dependent manner.

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