Chromosome segregation in most animal cells is brought about through two events: the movement of the chromosomes to the poles (anaphase A) and the movement of the poles away from each other (anaphase B). Essential to an understanding of the mechanism of mitosis is information on the relative movements of components of the spindle and identification of sites of subunit loss from shortening microtubules. Through use of tubulin derivatized with X-rhodamine, photobleaching, and digital imaging microscopy of living cells, we directly determined the relative movements of poles, chromosomes, and a marked domain on kinetochore fibers during anaphase. During chromosome movement and pole-pole separation, the marked domain did not move significantly with respect to the near pole. Therefore, the kinetochore microtubules were shortened by the loss of subunits at the kinetochore, although a small amount of subunit loss elsewhere was not excluded. In anaphase A, chromosomes moved on kinetochore microtubules that remained stationary with respect to the near pole. In anaphase B, the kinetochore fiber microtubules accompanied the near pole in its movement away from the opposite pole. These results eliminate models of anaphase in which microtubules are thought to be traction elements that are drawn to and depolymerized at the pole. Our results are compatible with models of anaphase in which the kinetochore fiber microtubules remain anchored at the pole and in which microtubule dynamics are centered at the kinetochore.

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