Trafficking between the nucleus and cytoplasm occurs through the nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). Kinetochores are proteinaceous structures that assemble at the centromere of each sister chromatid during mitosis, and that serve as sites of spindle microtubule attachment. The relationship between mitotic kinetochores and the NPC is both surprisingly intimate and poorly understood. NPCs consists of around thirty proteins, called nucleoporins. During interphase, a number of kinetochore proteins also stably bind to NPCs (e.g., Mad1, Mad2, Mps1). During mitosis, metazoan NPCs disassemble, and at least a third of nucleoporins associate with kinetochores, including the RanBP2 complex complex and the Nup107-160 complex. We have shown that these complexes play important roles in kinetochore function. A number of other nucleoporins that do not associate with kinetochores have also been shown to have important mitotic roles, including Nup214, Nup98 and TPR. The RanBP2 complex consists of RanBP2 (a large nucleoporin that is also known as Nup358), SUMO-1-conjugated RanGAP1 (the activating protein for the Ran GTPase) and Ubc9 (the conjugating enzyme for the SUMO family of ubiquitin-like modifiers). This complex associates with kinetochores in a microtubule-dependent manner. Disruption of RanBP2 association to kinetochores causes defective mitotic spindle assembly, and RanBP2 has been independently implicated as being important for interphase microtubule organization. Our current studies concentrate on two questions related to the RanBP2 protein: First, we are investigating proteins that interact with the mammalian RanBP2 complex and that may be essential for its activity in mitosis. Second, we are investigating the association of RanBP2 with RanGAP1 in species that do not utilize a SUMO-based mechanism for formation of the RanBP2 complex, in order to determine whether RanBP2 plays a fundamentally different mitotic role in these organisms. At the same time, we are working to develop quantitative assays for vertebrate chromosome mis-segregation. The development of conceptually simple sectoring assays provided a powerful genetic tool in yeast to assess rates of chromosome mis-segregation and to identify mutants deficient in this process. In the absence of vital assays for vertebrate chromosome segregation, mitotic abnormalities can only be scored in live assays through the gross mis-segregation of multiple chromatids, leading to obviously unequal distribution of chromosomes to daughter cells, or through the development of highly abnormal structures, such as micronuclei or/and chromosome bridges. More subtle defects, including the kind of chromosomal instability (CIN) found in many solid tumors, can currently only be monitored through more laborious assays involving karyotype analysis or fluorescent in situ hybridization. We are working with Vladimir Larionovs laboratory, who pioneered human artificial chromosomes (HACs) as gene therapy tools for efficient and regulated expression of genes of interest, to develop practical assays for chromosome mis-segregation in vertebrate cells. These assays will straightforward, quantitative assessment of CIN under a variety of conditions. The assays will be employed particularly to monitor the impact of changes in nucleoporins, as well as in the Ran and SUMO pathways. We expect that they will also be of general utility to others in the mitosis field.

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Chow, Kin-Hoe; Elgort, Suzanne; Dasso, Mary et al. (2014) The SUMO proteases SENP1 and SENP2 play a critical role in nucleoporin homeostasis and nuclear pore complex function. Mol Biol Cell 25:160-8
Mishra, Ram Kumar; Chakraborty, Papia; Arnaoutov, Alexei et al. (2010) The Nup107-160 complex and gamma-TuRC regulate microtubule polymerization at kinetochores. Nat Cell Biol 12:164-9
Chakraborty, Papia; Wang, Yaming; Wei, Jen-Hsuan et al. (2008) Nucleoporin levels regulate cell cycle progression and phase-specific gene expression. Dev Cell 15:657-67
Joseph, Jomon; Dasso, Mary (2008) The nucleoporin Nup358 associates with and regulates interphase microtubules. FEBS Lett 582:190-6