During prometaphase and metaphase of mitosis, tubulin subunit incorporation into kinetochore microtubules occurs proximal to the kinetochore, at the plus-ends of kinetochore microtubules. During anaphase, subunit loss from kinetochore fiber microtubules is also thought to occur mainly from microtubule plus-ends, proximal to the kinetochore. Thus, the kinetochore can mediate both subunit addition and loss while maintaining an attachment to kinetochore microtubules. To examine the relationship between chromosome motion and tubulin subunit assembly in anaphase, we have injected anaphase cells with biotin-labeled tubulin subunits. The pattern of biotin-tubulin incorporation was revealed using immunoelectron and confocal fluorescence microscopy of cells fixed after injection; chromosome motion was analyzed using video records of living injected cells. When anaphase cells are examined approximately 30 s after injection with biotin-tubulin, bright "tufts" of fluorescence are detected proximal to the kinetochores. Electron microscopic immunocytochemistry further reveals that these tufts of biotin-tubulin-containing microtubules are continuous with unlabeled kinetochore fiber microtubules. Biotin-tubulin incorporation proximal to the kinetochore in anaphase cells is detected after injection of 3-30 mg/ml biotin-tubulin, but not in cells injected with 0.3 mg/ml biotin-tubulin. At intermediate concentrations of biotin-tubulin (3-5 mg/ml), incorporation at the kinetochore can be detected within 15 s after injection; by approximately 1 min after injection discrete tufts of fluorescence are no longer detected, although some incorporation throughout the kinetochore fiber and into nonkinetochore microtubules is observed. At higher concentrations of injected biotin-tubulin (13 mg/ml), incorporation at the kinetochore is more extensive and occurs for longer periods of time than at intermediate concentrations. Incorporation of biotin-tubulin proximal to the kinetochore can be detected in cells injected during anaphase A, but not during anaphase B. Analysis of video records of microinjection experiments reveals that kinetochore proximal incorporation of biotin-tubulin is accompanied by a transient reversal of chromosome-to-pole motion. Chromosome motion is not altered after injection of 0.3 mg/ml biotin-tubulin or 5 mg/ml BSA. These results demonstrate that kinetochore microtubules in anaphase cells can elongate in response to the elevation of the tubulin concentration and that kinetochores retain the ability to mediate plus-end-dependent assembly of KMTs and plus-end-directed chromosome motion after anaphase onset.

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