Mitotic spindle assembly in animal cells is orchestrated by a chromosome-dependent pathway that directs microtubule stabilization. RanGTP generated at chromosomes releases spindle assembly factors from inhibitory complexes with importins, the nuclear transport factors that facilitate protein import into the nucleus during interphase. In addition, the nuclear export factor Crm1 has been proposed to act as a mitotic effector of RanGTP through the localized assembly of protein complexes on the mitotic spindle, notably at centrosomes and kinetochores. It has been unclear, however, how the functions of nuclear transport factors are controlled during mitosis. Here, we report that human Crm1 is phosphorylated at serine 391 in mitosis by CDK1-cyclin-B (i.e. the CDK1 and cyclin B complex). Expression of Crm1 with serine 391 mutated to either non-phosphorylated or phosphorylation-mimicking residues indicates that phosphorylation directs the localization of Crm1 to the mitotic spindle and facilitates spindle assembly, microtubule stabilization and chromosome alignment. We find that phosphorylation of Crm1 at serine 391 enhances its RanGTP-dependent interaction with RanGAP1-RanBP2 and promotes their recruitment to the mitotic spindle. These results show that phosphorylation of Crm1 controls its molecular interactions, localization and function during mitosis, uncovering a new mechanism for the control of mitotic spindle assembly by CDK1-cyclin-B. We propose that nuclear transport factors are controlled during mitosis through the selection of specific molecular interactions by protein phosphorylation.
- MITOTIC SPINDLE