Chromosome-membrane ensheathing: unwrapping a mitotic mystery
Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology, University of Warwick, UK
Errors in mitosis that cause chromosome missegregation lead to aneuploidy and micronucleus formation, which are associated with cancer. Accurate segregation requires the alignment of all chromosomes by the mitotic spindle at the metaphase plate, and any misalignment must be corrected before anaphase is triggered. The spindle is situated in a membrane-free “exclusion zone”, beyond this zone, endomembranes (mainly endoplasmic reticulum) are densely packed. We investigated what happens to misaligned chromosomes that find themselves beyond the exclusion zone. Here we show that such chromosomes become ensheathed in multiple layers of endomembranes. Chromosome ensheathing delays mitosis and increases the frequency of chromosome missegregation and micronucleus formation. We use an induced organelle relocalization strategy in live cells to show that clearance of endomembranes allows for the rescue of chromosomes that were destined for missegregation. Our findings indicate that endomembranes promote the missegregation of misaligned chromosomes outside the exclusion zone and therefore constitute a risk factor for aneuploidy.