The three dimensional organization of microtubules in mitotic spindles of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been determined by computer-aided reconstruction from electron micrographs of serially cross-sectioned spindles. Fifteen spindles ranging in length from 0.6-9.4 microns have been analyzed. Ordered microtubule packing is absent in spindles up to 0.8 micron, but the total number of microtubules is sufficient to allow one microtubule per kinetochore with a few additional microtubules that may form an interpolar spindle. An obvious bundle of about eight interpolar microtubules was found in spindles 1.3-1.6 microns long, and we suggest that the approximately 32 remaining microtubules act as kinetochore fibers. The relative lengths of the microtubules in these spindles suggest that they may be in an early stage of anaphase, even though these spindles are all situated in the mother cell, not in the isthmus between mother and bud. None of the reconstructed spindles exhibited the uniform populations of kinetochore microtubules characteristic of metaphase. Long spindles (2.7-9.4 microns), presumably in anaphase B, contained short remnants of a few presumed kinetochore microtubules clustered near the poles and a few long microtubules extending from each pole toward the spindle midplane, where they interdigitated with their counterparts from the other pole. Interpretation of these reconstructed spindles offers some insights into the mechanisms of mitosis in this yeast.

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