NuMA is a 236-kD intranuclear protein that during mitosis is distributed into each daughter cell by association with the pericentrosomal domain of the spindle apparatus. The NuMA polypeptide consists of globular head and tail domains separated by a discontinuous 1500 amino acid coiled-coil spacer. Expression of human NuMA lacking its globular head domain results in cells that fail to undergo cytokinesis and assemble multiple small nuclei (micronuclei) in the subsequent interphase despite the appropriate localization of the truncated NuMA to both the nucleus and spindle poles. This dominant phenotype is morphologically identical to that of the tsBN2 cell line that carries a temperature-sensitive mutation in the chromatin-binding protein RCC1. At the restrictive temperature, these cells end mitosis without completing cytokinesis followed by micronucleation in the subsequent interphase. We demonstrate that the wild-type NuMA is degraded in the latest mitotic stages in these mutant cells and that NuMA is excluded from the micronuclei that assemble post-mitotically. Elevation of NuMA levels in these mutant cells by forcing the expression of wild-type NuMA is sufficient to restore post-mitotic assembly of a single normal-sized nucleus. Expression of human NuMA lacking its globular tail domain results in NuMA that fails both to target to interphase nuclei and to bind to the mitotic spindle. In the presence of this mutant, cells transit through mitosis normally, but assemble micronuclei in each daughter cell. The sum of these findings demonstrate that NuMA function is required during mitosis for the terminal phases of chromosome separation and/or nuclear reassembly.

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