A novel protein has been identified which may serve a key function in nucleating spindle microtubule growth in mitosis. This protein, called centrophilin, is sequentially relocated from the centromeres to the centrosomes to the midbody in a manner dependent on the mitotic phase. Centrophilin was initially detected by immunofluorescence with a monoclonal, primate-specific antibody (2D3) raised against kinetochore-enriched chromosome extract from HeLa cells (Valdivia, M. M., and B. R. Brinkley. 1985. J. Cell Biol. 101:1124-1134). Centrophilin forms prominent crescents at the poles of the metaphase spindle, gradually diminishes during anaphase, and bands the equatorial ends of midbody microtubules in telophase. The formation and breakdown of the spindle and midbody correlates in time and space with the aggregation and disaggregation of centrophilin foci. Immunogold EM reveals that centrophilin is a major component of pericentriolar material in metaphase. During recovery from microtubule inhibition, centrophilin foci act as nucleation sites for the assembly of spindle tubules. The 2D3 probe recognizes two high molecular mass polypeptides, 180 and 210 kD, on immunoblots of whole HeLa cell extract. Taken together, these data and the available literature on microtubule dynamics point inevitably to a singular model for control of spindle tubule turnover.

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