GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Dannel McCollum, Ph.D.


Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins, Phosphorylation, Chromosome Segregation, Mitotic Spindle Apparatus, CDC2 Protein Kinase, Anaphase, Metaphase


The proper transmission of genetic materials into progeny cells is crucial for maintenance of genetic integrity in eukaryotes and fundamental for reproduction of organisms. To achieve this goal, chromosomes must be attached to microtubules emanating from opposite poles in a bi-oriented manner at metaphase, and then should be separated equally through proper spindle elongation in anaphase. Failure to do so leads to aneuploidy, which is often associated with cancer. Despite the presence of a safety device called the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) to monitor chromosome bi-orientation, mammalian cells frequently possess merotelic kinetochore orientation, in which a single kinetochore binds microtubules emanating from both poles. Merotelically attached kinetochores escape from the surveillance mechanism of the SAC and when cells proceed to anaphase cause lagging chromosomes, which are a leading cause of aneuploidy in mammalian tissue cultured cells. The fission yeast monopolin complex functions in prevention of mal-orientation of kinetochores including merotelic attachments during mitosis. Despite the known importance of Cdk1 activity during mitosis, it has been unclear how oscillations in Cdk1 activity drive the dramatic changes in chromosome behavior and spindle dynamics that occur at the metaphase/anaphase transition. In two separate studies, we show how dynamic Cdk1 phosphorylation regulates chromosome segregation. First, we demonstrate that sequential phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of monopolin by Cdk1 and Cdc14 phosphatase respectively helps ensure the orderly execution of two discrete steps in mitosis, namely sister kinetochore bi-orientation at metaphase and spindle elongation in anaphase. Second, we show that elevated Cdk1 activity is crucial for correction of merotelic kinetochores produced in monopolin and heterochromatin mutants.



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