Journal of Cell Science vol:123 issue:19 pages:3244-3255
Mitotic spindle assembly is mediated by two processes: a centrosomal and a chromosomal pathway. RanGTP regulates the latter process by releasing microtubule-associated proteins from inhibitory complexes. NuSAP, a microtubule-and DNA-binding protein, is a target of RanGTP and promotes the formation of microtubules near chromosomes. However, the contribution of NuSAP to cell proliferation in vivo is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the expression of NuSAP highly correlates with cell proliferation during embryogenesis and adult life, making it a reliable marker of proliferating cells. Additionally, we show that NuSAP deficiency in mice leads to early embryonic lethality. Spindle assembly in NuSAP-deficient cells is highly inefficient and chromosomes remain dispersed in the mitotic cytoplasm. As a result of sustained spindle checkpoint activity, the cells are unable to progress through mitosis, eventually leading to caspase activation and apoptotic cell death. Together, our findings demonstrate that NuSAP is essential for proliferation of embryonic cells and, simultaneously, they underscore the importance of chromatin-induced spindle assembly.