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The Spindle as a Basal Body Distributor


The spindle of metazoan cells functions as a dual distributor that guarantees the accurate segregation of both chromosomes and centrioles (basal bodies). This combined mechanism may have evolved from the separate distribution devices for chromosomes and basal bodies found in Protozoa.

Typical eupyrene spermatocytes of the silk moth were compared with atypical apyrene spermatocytes. (a) Long microtubules, persisting during centriolar movements, develop in the meiotic prophases in continuity with the centrioles (b) There is no longer a centriole-microtubule continuity at metaphase-anaphase (c) Spindles comprise microtubules and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The microtubules form a barrel-shaped structure terminating far in front of the centrioles. The two types of spermatocytes differ in the structure of the ER, which is vesicular in the eupyrene and lamellar in the apyrene line. It is suggested that the ER influences the anaphase movement of chromosomes, (d) The chromosomes lack localized centromeres. Microtubules penetrate all along the polar faces of the eupyrene metaphase chromosomes. The apyrene chromosomes form irregular blocks that are penetrated by microtubules all around their periphery, (e) The centriole comprises 3 concentric zones. Typical changes in the centriole are correlated with changes in the cell cycle. Replication, de novo formation and disappearance of centrioles are manifestations of the state of flux of the microtubules.

  • Received August 7, 1969.