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Characterization of the Arabidopsis Augmin Complex Uncovers Its Critical Function in the Assembly of the Acentrosomal Spindle and Phragmoplast Microtubule Arrays

Plant cells assemble the bipolar spindle and phragmoplast microtubule ( MT ) arrays in the absence of the centrosome structure. Our recent findings in Arabidopsis thaliana indicated that AUGMIN subunit3 (AUG3), a homolog of animal dim γ-tubulin 3, plays a critical role in γ-tubulin–dependent MT nucleation and amplification during mitosis. Here, we report the isolation of the entire plant augmin complex that contains eight subunits. Among them, AUG1 to AUG6 share low sequence similarity with their animal counterparts, but AUG7 and AUG8 share homology only with proteins of plant origin. Genetic analyses indicate that the AUG1 , AUG2 , AUG4 , and AUG5 genes are essential, as stable mutations in these genes could only be transmitted to heterozygous plants. The sterile aug7-1 homozygous mutant in which AUG7 expression is significantly reduced exhibited pleiotropic phenotypes of seriously retarded vegetative and reproductive growth. The aug7-1 mutation caused delocalization of γ-tubulin in the mitotic spindle and phragmoplast. Consequently, spindles were abnormally elongated, and their poles failed to converge, as MTs were splayed to discrete positions rendering deformed arrays. In addition, the mutant phragmoplasts often had disorganized MT bundles with uneven edges. We conclude that assembly of MT arrays during plant mitosis depends on the augmin complex, which includes two plant-specific subunits. Glossary MT microtubules MAP microtubule-associated protein LC-MS/MS liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry GFP green fluorescent protein BY-2 Bright Yellow 2 MTFT microtubular fir trees TAIR The Arabidopsis Information Resource http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Plant Cell American Society of Plant Biologist
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