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Science 322 (5905): 1243-1247

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Regulation of Microtubule Dynamics by Reaction Cascades Around Chromosomes

Chaitanya A. Athale, Ana Dinarina, Maria Mora-Coral, Céline Pugieux, Francois Nedelec, Eric Karsenti*

Abstract: During spindle assembly, chromosomes generate gradients of microtubule stabilization through a reaction-diffusion process, but how this is achieved is not well understood. We measured the spatial distribution of microtubule aster asymmetry around chromosomes by incubating centrosomes and micropatterned chromatin patches in frog egg extracts. We then screened for microtubule stabilization gradient shapes that would generate such spatial distributions with the use of computer simulations. Only a long-range, sharply decaying microtubule stabilization gradient could generate aster asymmetries fitting the experimental data. We propose a reaction-diffusion model that combines the chromosome generated Ran–guanosine triphosphate–Importin reaction network to a secondary phosphorylation network as a potential mechanism for the generation of such gradients.

Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Meyerhofstrasse 1, Heidelberg, Germany.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: karsenti{at}

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