BIK1 function is required for nuclear fusion, chromosome disjunction, and nuclear segregation during mitosis. The BIK1 protein colocalizes with tubulin to the spindle pole body and mitotic spindle. Synthetic lethality observed in double mutant strains containing a mutation in the BIK1 gene and in the gene for alpha- or beta-tubulin is consistent with a physical interaction between BIK1 and tubulin. Furthermore, over- or underexpression of BIK1 causes aberrant microtubule assembly and function, bik1 null mutants are viable but contain very short or undetectable cytoplasmic microtubules. Spindle formation often occurs strictly within the mother cell, probably accounting for the many multinucleate and anucleate bik1 cells. Elevated levels of chromosome loss in bik1 cells are indicative of defective spindle function. Nuclear fusion is blocked in bik1 x bik1 zygotes, which have truncated cytoplasmic microtubules. Cells overexpressing BIK1 initially have abnormally short or nonexistent spindle microtubules and long cytoplasmic microtubules. Subsequently, cells lose all microtubule structures, coincident with the arrest of division. Based on these results, we propose that BIK1 is required stoichiometrically for the formation or stabilization of microtubules during mitosis and for spindle pole body fusion during conjugation.

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