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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Molecular & Cellular Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



A cell must build a bipolar mitotic spindle in order to faithfully segregate replicated DNA. To do so, multiple microtubule nucleation pathways are utilized to generate the robust spindle apparatus. TPX2, a microtubule binding protein, holds crucial roles in both the Ran-dependent and Augmin-dependent pathways where microtubules are nucleated near the chromosomes and from pre-existing microtubules. However, the exact role TPX2 plays in branching microtubules is less understood. Here, we explored the effect of truncating the essential TPX2 C-terminal 37 amino acids on Augmin localization and branching microtubule activity. First, we depleted LLC-Pk1 cells of the Augmin subunit HAUS6 and show that microtubule nucleation around the chromosomes following a nocodazole washout is strongly reduced leading to exaggerated kinetochore microtubule growth. Next, we depleted endogenous TPX2 in LLC-Pk1 cells harboring full length or truncated TPX2 bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) DNA. Results show that TPX2 710 LAP cells have reduced Augmin localization on the spindle fibers, which correlates with reduced microtubule regrowth in the chromosomal region. In TPX2 710 LAP cells, regrowth was like Augmin depleted cells. Therefore, we provide evidence that the far C-terminus of TPX2 is required for branching microtubule nucleation and that kinetochore microtubule growth is Augmin-independent. In addition, we investigated cell cycle regulation of TPX2 by mutating the S738 phosphosite in the C-terminal motor interacting region. We utilized BAC recombineering to create phospho-mimetic and phospho-null mutants. In combination with plasmid DNA knockdown/rescue, overexpression and spindle assembly assays, we show that the phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain contributes to early mitotic events. LLC-Pk1 cells showed a significant increase in aberrant spindle morphology and reduced spindle stability in the presence of 738A and absence of endogenous TPX2. While rescue with the alanine mutant caused in an increase in multipolar spindles, overexpression resulted in a strong dominant negative monopolar phenotype. Therefore, S738 appears to contribute to mitotic force regulation during mitosis. In conclusion, the far C-terminus of TPX2 and its regulation play a role in the formation of a proper mitotic spindle.


First Advisor

Patricia Wadsworth

Included in

Cell Biology Commons