In the accompanying paper (Cabral, F., 1982, J. Cell. Biol., 97:22-29) we described the isolation and properties of taxol-requiring mutants of Chinese hamster ovary cells. We now show that at least one of these mutants, Tax-18, has an impaired ability to form a spindle apparatus. Immunofluorescence studies using antibodies to tubulin demonstrate that, when incubated in the absence of taxol, Tax-18 forms only a rudimentary spindle with few and shortened microtubules associated with the spindle poles. Furthermore, midbodies were not observed, consistent with an absence of cytokinesis. Essentially normal spindles and midbodies are seen in the presence of taxol. Electron microscopic examination indicates that centrioles and kinetochores are morphologically normal in the mutant strain. Pole-to-kinetochore microtubules were seen but interpolar microtubules were not. Taxol-deprived mutant cells stained with anti-centrosome serum show an elevated centriole content, indicating that the defect in Tax-18 does not affect centriole replication or prevent progression through the cell cycle. Although Tax-18 cells do not form a complete spindle in the absence of taxol, cytoplasmic microtubule assembly occurs in association with microtubule-organizing centers, and microtubules with apparently normal morphology exist throughout the cytoplasm. Observation of chromosome movement indicates that the defect in these cells occurs after prometaphase. These studies demonstrate that the formation of spindle microtubules requires cellular conditions that are different from those required for cytoplasmic microtubule formation. They further show that a normal spindle may be necessary for cytokinesis but not for progress of the cells through the cell cycle.

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