The transition from metaphase to anaphase is regulated by a checkpoint system that prevents chromosome segregation in anaphase until all the chromosomes have aligned at the metaphase plate. We provide evidence indicating that a kinetochore phosphoepitope plays a role in this checkpoint pathway. The 3F3/2 monoclonal antibody recognizes a kinetochore phosphoepitope in mammalian cells that is expressed on chromosomes before their congression to the metaphase plate. Once chromosomes are aligned, expression is lost and cells enter anaphase shortly thereafter. When microinjected into prophase cells, the 3F3/2 antibody caused a concentration-dependent delay in the onset of anaphase. Injected antibody inhibited the normal dephosphorylation of the 3F3/2 phosphoepitope at kinetochores. Microinjection of the antibody eliminated the asymmetric expression of the phosphoepitope normally seen on sister kinetochores of chromosomes during their movement to the metaphase plate. Chromosome movement to the metaphase plate appeared unaffected in cells injected with the antibody suggesting that asymmetric expression of the phosphoepitope on sister kinetochores is not required for chromosome congression to the metaphase plate. In antibody-injected cells, the epitope remained expressed at kinetochores throughout the prolonged metaphase, but had disappeared by the onset of anaphase. When normal cells in metaphase, lacking the epitope at kinetochores, were treated with agents that perturb microtubules, the 3F3/2 phosphoepitope quickly reappeared at kinetochores. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that the 3F3/2 epitope is concentrated in the middle electronlucent layer of the trilaminar kinetochore structure. We propose that the 3F3/2 kinetochore phosphoepitope is involved in detecting stable kinetochore-microtubule attachment or is a signaling component of the checkpoint pathway regulating the metaphase to anaphase transition.

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