Accurate mitosis requires kinetochores to make persistent, load-bearing attachments to dynamic microtubule tips, thereby coupling chromosome movements to tip growth and shortening. This tip-coupling behavior depends on the conserved Ndc80 complex and, in budding yeast, on the Dam1 complex, which bind each other directly via three distinct interacting regions. The functional relevance of these multiple interactions was mysterious. Here we show that interactions between two of these regions support the high rupture strengths that occur when applied force is rapidly increased and also support the stability of tip-coupling when force is held constant over longer durations. The contribution of either of these two regions to tip-coupling is reduced by phosphorylation by Aurora B kinase. The third interaction region makes no apparent contribution to rupture strength, but its phosphorylation by Aurora B kinase specifically decreases the long-term stability of tip-coupling. The specific reduction of long-term stability relative to short-term strength might have important implications for mitotic error correction.

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