2017 Volume 14 Pages 1-11
The metaphase spindle is organized for accurate chromosome segregation. One of the fundamental features of the spindle across the species is its symmetrical shape; the spindle consists of two polar arrays of microtubules at both ends. Although it has been suggested that the formation of the bipolar shape requires force balance coordination by molecular motors, i.e., kinesins and dyneins, quantitative analysis for the pole mechanics has not been conducted. Here, we demonstrate that it is not only the shape but also the stiffness and microtubule density of the pairs of pole regions are symmetrically balanced in single spindles self-assembled in Xenopus egg extracts. We found that the inhibition of dynein functions dramatically reduced the stiffness and microtubule density in the pole region. By contrast, the inhibition of one of the kinesins, Eg5, which is the antagonistic motor protein of dynein, increased the value of these parameters. Moreover, the inhibition of both dynein and Eg5 recovered these parameter values to those of non-treated spindle poles. We also found that, when one pole structure was held widened with the use of two glass microneedles, the opposite pole structure spontaneously widened, resulting in the formation of the barrel-like shaped spindle. The values of stiffness and microtubule density in the manipulated pole region decreased, following the spontaneous decrement of those in the paired unmanipulated pole region. These results suggest that the spindle possesses a mechanism to dynamically maintain its symmetry in mechanical properties.