The mitotic spindle is a bipolar, microtubule (MT)-based cellular machine that segregates the duplicated genome into two daughter cells. The kinesin-5 Eg5 establishes the bipolar geometry of the mitotic spindle, but previous work in mammalian cells suggested that this motor is unimportant for the maintenance of spindle bipolarity. Although it is known that Kif15, a second mitotic kinesin, enforces spindle bipolarity in the absence of Eg5, how Kif15 functions in this capacity and/or whether other biochemical or physical properties of the spindle promote its bipolarity have been poorly studied. Here we report that not all human cell lines can efficiently maintain bipolarity without Eg5, despite their expressing Kif15. We show that the stability of chromosome-attached kinetochore-MTs (K-MTs) is important for bipolar spindle maintenance without Eg5. Cells that efficiently maintain bipolar spindles without Eg5 have more stable K-MTs than those that collapse without Eg5. Consistent with this observation, artificial destabilization of K-MTs promotes spindle collapse without Eg5, whereas stabilizing K-MTs improves bipolar spindle maintenance without Eg5. Our findings suggest that either rapid K-MT turnover pulls poles inward or slow K-MT turnover allows for greater resistance to inward-directed forces.
© 2014 Gayek and Ohi. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).