Chromosomal instability, one of the most prominent features of tumour cells, causes aneuploidy. Tetraploidy is thought to be an intermediate on the path to aneuploidy, but the mechanistic relationship between the two states is poorly understood. Here, we show that spindle polarity (e.g. bipolarity or multipolarity) in tetraploid cells depends on the level of functional phosphorylated Eg5, a mitotic kinesin, localised to the spindle. Multipolar spindles are formed in cells with high levels of phosphorylated Eg5. This process is suppressed by inhibition of Eg5 or expression of a non-phosphorylatable Eg5 mutant, as well as by changing the balance between opposing forces required for centrosome separation. Tetraploid cells with high levels of functional Eg5 give rise to a heterogeneous aneuploid population through multipolar division, whereas cells with low levels of functional Eg5 continue to undergo bipolar division and remain tetraploid. Furthermore, Eg5 protein levels correlate with ploidy status in tumour specimens. We provide a novel explanation for the tetraploid intermediate model, i.e. spindle polarity and subsequent tetraploid cell behaviour are determined by the balance of forces generated by mitotic kinesins at the spindle.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology