Kinetochores may perform several functions at mitosis and meiosis including: (a) directing anaphase chromosome separation, (b) regulating prometaphase alignment of the chromosomes at the spindle equator (congression), and/or (c) capturing and stabilizing microtubules. To explore these functions in vivo, autoimmune sera against the centromere/kinetochore complex are microinjected into mouse oocytes during specific phases of first or second meiosis, or first mitosis. Serum E.K. crossreacts with an 80-kD protein in mouse cells and detects the centromere/kinetochore complex in permeabilized cells or when microinjected into living oocytes. Chromosome separation at anaphase is not blocked when these antibodies are microinjected into unfertilized oocytes naturally arrested at second meiotic metaphase, into eggs at first mitotic metaphase, or into immature oocytes at first meiotic metaphase. Microtubule capture and spindle reformation occur normally in microinjected unfertilized oocytes recovering from cold or microtubule disrupting drugs; the chromosomes segregate correctly after parthenogenetic activation. Prometaphase congression is dramatically influenced when antikinetochore/centromere antibodies are introduced during interphase or in prometaphase-stage meiotic or mitotic eggs. At metaphase, these oocytes have unaligned chromosomes scattered throughout the spindle with several remaining at the poles; anaphase is aberrant and, after division, karyomeres are found in the polar body and oocyte or daughter blastomeres. Neither nonimmune sera, diffuse scleroderma sera, nor sham microinjections affect either meiosis or mitosis. These results suggest that antikinetochore/centromere antibodies produced by CREST patients interfere with chromosome congression at prometaphase in vivo.

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