Faithful chromosome segregation is ensured by the establishment of bi-orientation; the attachment of sister kinetochores to the end of microtubules extending from opposite spindle poles. In addition, kinetochores can also attach to lateral surfaces of microtubules; called lateral attachment, which plays a role in chromosome capture and transport. However, molecular basis and biological significance of lateral attachment are not fully understood. We have addressed these questions by focusing on the prometaphase rosette, a typical chromosome configuration in early prometaphase. We found that kinetochores form uniform lateral attachments in the prometaphase rosette. Many transient kinetochore components are maximally enriched, in an Aurora B activity-dependent manner, when the prometaphase rosette is formed. We revealed that rosette formation is driven by rapid poleward motion of dynein, but can occur even in its absence, through slow kinetochore movements caused by microtubule depolymerization that is supposedly dependent on kinetochore tethering at microtubule ends by CENP-E. We also found that chromosome connection to microtubules is extensively lost when lateral attachment is perturbed in cells defective in end-on attachment. Our findings demonstrate that lateral attachment is an important intermediate in bi-orientation establishment and chromosome alignment, playing a crucial role in incorporating chromosomes into the nascent spindle.
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