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Telomeres and centromeres have interchangeable roles in promoting meiotic spindle formation.

Authors: Alex A. Fennell, Alfonso A. Fernández-Álvarez, Kazunori K. Tomita, Julia Promisel JP. Cooper
Published: 02/17/2015, The Journal of cell biology


Telomeres and centromeres have traditionally been considered to perform distinct roles. During meiotic prophase, in a conserved chromosomal configuration called the bouquet, telomeres gather to the nuclear membrane (NM), often near centrosomes. We found previously that upon disruption of the fission yeast bouquet, centrosomes failed to insert into the NM at meiosis I and nucleate bipolar spindles. Hence, the trans-NM association of telomeres with centrosomes during prophase is crucial for efficient spindle formation. Nonetheless, in approximately half of bouquet-deficient meiocytes, spindles form properly. Here, we show that bouquet-deficient cells can successfully undergo meiosis using centromere-centrosome contact instead of telomere-centrosome contact to generate spindle formation. Accordingly, forced association between centromeres and centrosomes fully rescued the spindle defects incurred by bouquet disruption. Telomeres and centromeres both stimulate focal accumulation of the SUN domain protein Sad1 beneath the centrosome, suggesting a molecular underpinning for their shared spindle-generating ability. Our observations demonstrate an unanticipated level of interchangeability between the two most prominent chromosomal landmarks.

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