The Drosophila microtubule motor protein, nonclaret disjunctional (ncd), is required for proper chromosome distribution in meiosis and mitosis. We have examined the meiotic and mitotic divisions in wild-type Drosophila oocytes and early embryos, and the effects of three ncd mutants (cand, ncd and ncdD) on spindle structure and chromosome movement. The ncd mutants cause abnormalities in spindle structure early in meiosis I, and abnormal chromosome configurations throughout meiosis I and II. Defective divisions continue in early embryos of the motor null mutant, cand, with abnormal early mitotic spindles. The effects of mutants on spindle structure suggest that ncd is required for proper meiotic spindle assembly, and may play a role in forming or maintaining spindle poles in meiosis. The disruption of normal meiotic and mitotic chromosome distribution by ncd mutants can be attributed to its role as a spindle motor, although a role for ncd as a chromosome-associated motor protein is not excluded. The ncd motor protein functions not only in meiosis, but also performs an active role in the early mitotic divisions of the embryo.

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