During cell division the replicated chromosomes are segregated precisely towards the spindle poles. Although many cellular processes involving motility require ATP-fuelled force generation by motor proteins, most models of the chromosome movement invoke the release of energy stored at strained (owing to GTP hydrolysis) plus ends of microtubules. This energy is converted into chromosome movement through passive couplers, whereas the role of molecular motors is limited to the regulation of microtubule dynamics. Here we report, that the microtubule-depolymerizing activity of MCAK (mitotic centromere-associated kinesin), the founding member of the kinesin-13 family, is accompanied by the generation of significant tensiongremarkably, at both microtubule ends. An MCAK-decorated bead strongly attaches to the microtubule side, but readily slides along it in either direction under weak external loads and tightly captures and disassembles both microtubule ends. We show that the depolymerization force increases with the number of interacting MCAK molecules and is ∼1-pN per motor. These results provide a simple model for the generation of driving force and the regulation of chromosome segregation by the activity of MCAK at both kinetochores and spindle poles through aside-sliding, end-catchinmechanism.
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