Distribution of lifetimes of kinetochore-microtubule attachments: interplay of energy landscape, molecular motors and microtubule (de-)polymerization.

Physical biology

PubMedID: 24759331

Sharma AK, Shtylla B, Chowdhury D. Distribution of lifetimes of kinetochore-microtubule attachments: interplay of energy landscape, molecular motors and microtubule (de-)polymerization. Phys Biol. 2014;11(3):036004.
Before a cell divides into two daughter cells, chromosomes are replicated resulting in two sister chromosomes embracing each other. Each sister chromosome is bound to a separate proteinous structure, called kinetochore (kt), that captures the tip of a filamentous protein, called microtubule (MT). Two oppositely oriented MTs pull the two kts attached to two sister chromosomes, thereby pulling the two sisters away from each other. Here we theoretically study an even simpler system, namely an isolated kt coupled to a single MT; this system mimics an in vitro experiment where a single kt-MT attachment is reconstituted using purified extracts from budding yeast. Our models not only account for the experimentally observed 'catch-bond-like' behavior of the kt-MT coupling, but also make new predictions on the probability distribution of the lifetimes of the attachments. In principle, our new predictions can be tested by analyzing the data collected in the in vitro experiments, provided that the experiment is repeated a sufficiently large number of times. Our theory provides a deep insight into the effects of (a) size, (b) energetics, and (c) stochastic kinetics of the kt-MT coupling on the distribution of the lifetimes of these attachments.