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High-Voltage Electron Tomography of Spindle Pole Bodies and Early Mitotic Spindles in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

By Eileen T. O’Toole, Mark Winey and J. Richard McIntosh


The spindle pole body (SPB) is the major microtubule-organizing center of budding yeast and is the functional equivalent of the centrosome in higher eukaryotic cells. We used fast-frozen, freeze-substituted cells in conjunction with high-voltage electron tomography to study the fine structure of the SPB and the events of early spindle formation. Individual structures were imaged at 5–10 nm resolution in three dimensions, significantly better than can be achieved by serial section electron microscopy. The SPB is organized in distinct but coupled layers, two of which show ordered two-dimensional packing. The SPB central plaque is anchored in the nuclear envelope with hook-like structures. The minus ends of nuclear microtubules (MTs) are capped and are tethered to the SPB inner plaque, whereas the majority of MT plus ends show a distinct flaring. Unbudded cells containing a single SPB retain 16 MTs, enough to attach to each of the expected 16 chromosomes. Their median length is ∼150 nm. MTs growing from duplicated but not separated SPBs have a median length of ∼130 nm and interdigitate over the bridge that connects the SPBs. As a bipolar spindle is formed, the median MT length increases to ∼300 nm and then decreases to ∼30 nm in late anaphase. Three-dimensional models confirm that there is no conventional metaphase and that anaphase A occurs. These studies complement and extend what is known about the three-dimensional structure of the yeast mitotic spindle and further our understanding of the organization of the SPB in intact cells

Topics: Article
Publisher: The American Society for Cell Biology
Year: 1999
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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