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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Kinesin-5 motors are required for organization of spindle microtubules in Silvetia compressa zygotes

Nick T Peters* and Darryl L Kropf

Author Affiliations

Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

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BMC Plant Biology 2006, 6:19  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-6-19

Published: 31 August 2006



Monastrol, a chemical inhibitor specific to the Kinesin-5 family of motor proteins, was used to examine the functional roles of Kinesin-5 proteins during the first, asymmetric cell division cycle in the brown alga Silvetia compressa.


Monastrol treatment had no effect on developing zygotes prior to entry into mitosis. After mitosis entry, monastrol treatment led to formation of monasters and cell cycle arrest in a dose dependent fashion. These findings indicate that Kinesin-5 motors maintain spindle bipolarity, and are consistent with reports in animal cells. At low drug concentrations that permitted cell division, spindle position was highly displaced from normal, resulting in abnormal division planes. Strikingly, application of monastrol also led to formation of numerous cytasters throughout the cytoplasm and multipolar spindles, uncovering a novel effect of monastrol treatment not observed in animal cells.


We postulate that monastrol treatment causes spindle poles to break apart forming cytasters, some of which capture chromosomes and become supernumerary spindle poles. Thus, in addition to maintaining spindle bipolarity, Kinesin-5 members in S. compressa likely organize microtubules at spindle poles. To our knowledge, this is the first functional characterization of the Kinesin-5 family in stramenopiles.