Transcription at the centromere of chromosomes plays an important role in kinetochore assembly in many eukaryotes, and noncoding RNAs contribute to activation of the mitotic kinase Aurora B. However, little is known about how mitotic RNA processing contributes to spindle assembly. We found that inhibition of transcription initiation or RNA splicing, but not translation, leads to spindle defects in Xenopus egg extracts. Spliceosome inhibition resulted in the accumulation of high molecular weight centromeric transcripts, concomitant with decreased recruitment of the centromere and kinetochore proteins CENP-A, CENP-C, and NDC80 to mitotic chromosomes. In addition, blocking transcript synthesis or processing during mitosis caused accumulation of MCAK, a microtubule depolymerase, on the spindle, indicating misregulation of Aurora B. These findings suggest that co-transcriptional recruitment of the RNA processing machinery to nascent mitotic transcripts is an important step in kinetochore and spindle assembly and challenge the idea that RNA processing is globally repressed during mitosis.
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© 2016 Grenfell et al.