Mechanical impulses can control metaphase progression in a mammalian cell

Takeshi Itabashi, Yasuhiko Terada, Kenta Kuwana, Tetsuo Kan, Isao Shimoyama, Shin'ichi Ishiwata*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Chromosome segregation machinery is controlled by mechanochemical regulation. Tension in a mitotic spindle, which is balanced by molecular motors and polymerization-depolymerization dynamics of microtubules, is thought to be essential for determining the timing of chromosome segregation after the establishment of the kinetochore-microtubule attachments. It is not known, however, whether and how applied mechanical forces modulate the tension balance and chemically affect the molecular processes involved in chromosome segregation. Here we found that a mechanical impulse externally applied to mitotic HeLa cells alters the balance of forces within the mitotic spindle. We identified two distinct mitotic responses to the applied mechanical force that either facilitate or delay anaphase onset, depending on the direction of force and the extent of cell compression. An external mechanical impulse that physically increases tension within the mitotic spindle accelerates anaphase onset, and this is attributed to the facilitation of physical cleavage of sister chromatid cohesion. On the other hand, a decrease in tension activates the spindle assembly checkpoint, which impedes the degradation of mitotic proteins and delays the timing of chromosome segregation. Thus, the external mechanical force acts as a crucial regulator for metaphase progression, modulating the internal force balance and thereby triggering specific mechanochemical cellular reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7320-7325
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2012 May 8


  • Chromosome segregation
  • Mechanobiology
  • Mitotic force
  • Mitotic spindle
  • Spindle assembly checkpoint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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