Non-centrosomal microtubules at kinetochores promote rapid chromosome biorientation during mitosis in human cells

Fioranna Renda, Christopher Miles, Irina Tikhonenko, Rebecca Fisher, Lina Carlini, Tarun M. Kapoor, Alex Mogilner, Alexey Khodjakov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proper segregation of chromosomes during mitosis depends on “amphitelic attachments”—load-bearing connections of sister kinetochores to the opposite spindle poles via bundles of microtubules, termed as the “K-fibers.” Current models of spindle assembly assume that K-fibers arise largely from stochastic capture of microtubules, which occurs at random times and locations and independently at sister kinetochores. We test this assumption by following the movements of all kinetochores in human cells and determine that most amphitelic attachments form synchronously at a specific stage of spindle assembly and within a spatially distinct domain. This biorientation domain is enriched in bundles of antiparallel microtubules, and perturbation of microtubule bundling changes the temporal and spatial dynamics of amphitelic attachment formation. Structural analyses indicate that interactions of kinetochores with microtubule bundles are mediated by non-centrosomal short microtubules that emanate from most kinetochores during early prometaphase. Computational analyses suggest that momentous molecular motor-driven interactions with antiparallel bundles rapidly convert these short microtubules into nascent K-fibers. Thus, load-bearing connections to the opposite spindle poles form simultaneously on sister kinetochores. In contrast to the uncoordinated sequential attachments of sister kinetochores expected in stochastic models of spindle assembly, our model envisions the formation of amphitelic attachments as a deterministic process in which the chromosomes connect with the spindle poles synchronously at a specific stage of spindle assembly and at a defined location determined by the spindle architecture. Experimental analyses of changes in the kinetochore behavior in cells with perturbed activity of molecular motors CenpE and dynein confirm the predictive power of the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1063.e4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 14 2022


  • agent-based simulation
  • chromosome segregation
  • computational model
  • kinetochore
  • mitosis
  • spindle assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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