The kinetochore creates chromosomal attachment sites for microtubules. The kinetochore-microtubule interface plays an important role in ensuring accurate transmission of genetic information to daughter cells. Bombyx mori is known to possess holocentric chromosomes, where spindle microtubules attach along the entire length of the chromosome. Recent evidence suggests that CENP-A and CENP-C, which are essential for centromere structure and function in other species, have lost in holocentric insects, implying that B. mori is able to build its kinetochore regardless of the lack of CENP-A and CENP-C. Here we report the identification of three outer kinetochore genes in the silkworm B. mori by using bioinformatics and RNA interference-based screening. While the homologs of Ndc80 and Mis12 have strong similarity with those of other organisms, the five encoded proteins (BmNuf2, BmSpc24, BmSpc25, BmDsn1 and BmNnf1) are highly diverged from their counterparts in other species. Microscopic studies show that the outer kinetochore protein is distributed along the entire length of the chromosomes, which is a key feature of holocentric chromosomes. We also demonstrate that BmDsn1 forms a heterotrimeric complex with BmMis12 and BmNnf1, which acts as a receptor of the Ndc80 complex. In addition, our study suggests that a small-scale RNAi-based candidate screening is a useful approach to identify genes which may be highly divergent among different species.
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