Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cell Biology


Cell Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Edward G. Fey

Second Thesis Advisor

Jeanne B. Lawrence


Nuclear Matrix-Associated Proteins, Phosphoproteins, Nuclear Matrix, Mitotic Spindle Apparatus


The overall objective of this study was to identify novel proteins of the nuclear matrix in order to contribute to a better understanding of nuclear structure and organization. To accomplish this, a monoclonal antibody specific for the nuclear matrix was used to screen a human λgt11 expression library. Several cDNAs were isolated, cloned, sequenced, and shown to represent NuMA, the nuclear mitotic spindle apparatus protein. Further characterization of the gene and RNA was undertaken in an effort to obtain information about NuMA. The NuMA gene was present at a single site on human chromosome 11q13. Northern and PCR analysis of NuMA mRNA showed a major 7.2 kb transcript and minor forms of 8.0 and 3.0 kb. The minor forms were shown to be alternatively spliced although their functional significance is not yet understood. Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that NuMA oscillates between the nucleus and the microtubule spindle apparatus during the mitotic cell cycle. NuMA appeared as a 200-275 kDa protein detectable in all mammalian cells except human neutrophils. To determine whether NuMA's changes in intracellular distribution correlated with post-translational modifications, the protein's phosphorylation state was examined through the cell cycle using highly synchronized cells. NuMA was a phosphoprotein in interphase and underwent additional phosphorylation events in mitosis. The mitotic phosphorylation events occurred with similar timing to lamin B (G2/M transition) and were concomitant with NuMA's release from the nucleus and its association with the mitotic spindle. However, the mitotic phosphorylation occurred in the absence of spindle formation. Dephosphorylation of NuMA did not correlate with reassociation with the nuclear matrix but occurred in two distinct steps after nuclear reformation. Based on the timing of these events, phosphorylation may playa role in nuclear processes. In conclusion, the work in this dissertation identified NuMA, a nuclear matrix protein and showed that it is phosphorylated during the cell cycle and may be important for nuclear events such as nuclear organization, transcription, or initiation of DNA replication at G1/S.



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