The mitotic spindle assembles into a bipolar, microtubule-based protein machine during prometaphase. One proposed mechanism for this process is "search-and-capture," in which dynamically unstable microtubules (MTs) search space to capture chromosomes . Although existing theoretical estimates [2, 3] suggest that dynamic instability is efficient enough to allow capture within characteristic mitotic timescales, they are limited in scope and do not address the capture times for realistic numbers of chromosomes. Here we used mathematical modeling to explore this issue. We show that without any bias toward the chromosomes, search-and-capture is not efficient enough to explain the typical observed duration of prometaphase. We further analyze search-and-capture in the presence of a spatial gradient of a stabilizing factor [4-6] that biases MT dynamics toward the chromosomes. We show theoretically that such biased search-and-capture is efficient enough to account for chromosome capture. We also show that additional factors must contribute to accelerate the spindle assembly for cells with large nuclear volumes. We discuss the possibility that a RanGTP gradient introduces a spatial bias into microtubule dynamics and thus improves the efficiency of search-and-capture as a mechanism for spindle assembly.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)