Monitoring Editor: Kerry S. Bloom Centromeric (CEN) chromatin is placed under mechanical tension and stretches as kinetochores biorient on the mitotic spindle. This deformation could conceivably provide a read-out of biorientation to error correction mechanisms that monitor kinetochore-spindle interactions, but whether CEN chromatin acts in a tensiometer capacity is unresolved. Here we report observations linking yeast Topoisomerase II (Top2) to both CEN mechanics and assessment of interkinetochore tension. First, in top2-4 and sumoylation-resistant top2-SNM mutants CEN chromatin stretches extensively during biorientation, resulting in increased sister kinetochore separation and pre-anaphase spindle extension. Our data indicate increased CEN stretching corresponds with alterations to CEN topology induced in response to tension. Second, Top2 potentiates aspects of the tension checkpoint. Mutations affecting the Mtw1 kinetochore protein activate Ipl1 kinase to detach kinetochores and induce spindle checkpoint arrest. In mtw1top2-4 and mtw1top2-SNM mutants, however, kinetochores are resistant to detachment and checkpoint arrest is attenuated. For top2-SNM cells, CEN stretching and checkpoint attenuation occur even in the absence of catenation linking sister chromatids. In sum, Top2 appears to play a novel role in CEN compaction that is distinct from decatenation. Perturbations to this function may allow weakened kinetochores to stretch CENs in a manner that mimics tension or evades Ipl1 surveillance.
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