Two distinctly different ATPases have been reported to be endogenous to the mitotic apparatus: a Mg2+-ATPase resembling axonemal dynein, and a Ca2+-ATPase postulated to be bound in membranes. To examine the nature of the Mg2+-ATPase, we isolated membrane-free mitotic spindles from Stronglylocentrotus droebachiensis embryos by rapidly lysing these in a calcium-chelating, low-ionic-strength buffer (5 mM EGTA, 0.5 mM MgCl2, 10 mM PIPES, pH 6.8) that contained 1% Nonidet P-40. The fibrous isolated mitotic spindles closely resembled spindles in living cells, both in general morphology and in birefringence. In electron micrographs, the spindles were composed primarily of microtubules, free from membranes and highly extracted of intermicrotubular cytoplasmic ground substance. As analyzed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), the pelleted spindles contain 18% tubulin, variable amounts of actin (2-8%), and an unidentified protein of 55 kdaltons in a constant weight ratio to tubulin (1:2.5). The isolated spindles also contained two polypeptides, larger than 300 kdaltons, that comigrated with egg dynein polypeptides, and ATPase activity (0.02 mumol Pi/mg . min) that closely resembled both flagellar and egg dynein. The spindle Mg2+-ATPase showed a ratio of Ca2+-/Mg2+-ATPase = 0.85, had minimal activity in KCl and EDTA, and cleaved GTP at 35% of the rate of ATP. The Mg2+-ATPase was insensitive to ouabain or oligomycin. The spindle Mg2+-ATPase was inhibited by sodium vanadate but, like egg dynein, was less sensitive to vanadate than flagellar dynein. The spindle Mg2+-ATPase does not resemble the mitotic Ca2+-ATPase described by others. We propose that the spindle Mg2+-ATPase is egg dynein. Bound carbohydrate on the two high-molecular-weight polypeptides of both egg dynein and the spindle enzyme suggest that these proteins may normally associate with membranes in the living cell.

This content is only available as a PDF.