The far C-terminus of MCAK regulates its conformation and spindle pole focusing

Hailing Zong, Stephanie K. Carnes, Christina Moe, Claire E. Walczak, Stephanie C. Ems-McClung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


To ensure proper spindle assembly, microtubule (MT) dynamics needs to be spatially regulated within the cell. The kinesin-13 MCAK is a potent MT depolymerase with a complex subcellular localization, yet how MCAK spatial regulation contributes to spindle assembly is not understood. Here we show that the far C-terminus of MCAK plays a critical role in regulating MCAK conformation, subspindle localization, and spindle assembly in Xenopus egg extracts. Alteration of MCAK conformation by the point mutation E715A/E716A in the far C-terminus increased MCAK targeting to the poles and reduced MT lifetimes, which induced spindles with unfocused poles. These effects were phenocopied by the Aurora A phosphomimetic mutation, S719E. Furthermore, addition of the kinesin-14 XCTK2 to spindle assembly reactions rescued the unfocused-pole phenotype. Collectively our work shows how the regional targeting of MCAK regulates MT dynamics, highlighting the idea that multiple phosphorylation pathways of MCAK cooperate to spatially control MT dynamics to maintain spindle architecture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1451-1464
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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