Chromosome segregation during mitosis hinges on proper assembly of the microtubule spindle that establishes bipolar attachment to each chromosome. Experiments demonstrate allometry of mitotic spindles and a universal scaling relationship between spindle size and cell size across metazoans, which indicates a conserved principle of spindle assembly at play during evolution. However, the nature of this principle is currently unknown. Researchers have focused on deriving the mechanistic underpinning of the size scaling from the mechanical aspects of the spindle assembly process. In this work we take a different standpoint and ask: What is the size scaling for? We address this question from the functional perspectives of spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). SAC is the critical surveillance mechanism that prevents premature chromosome segregation in the presence of unattached or misattached chromosomes. The SAC signal gets silenced after and only after the last chromosome-spindle attachment in mitosis. We previously established a model that explains the robustness of SAC silencing based on spindle-mediated spatiotemporal regulation of SAC proteins. Here, we refine the previous model, and find that robust and timely SAC silencing entails proper size scaling of mitotic spindle. This finding provides, to our knowledge, a novel, function-oriented angle toward understanding the observed spindle allometry, and the universal scaling relationship between spindle size and cell size in metazoans. In a broad sense, the functional requirement of robust SAC silencing could have helped shape the spindle assembly mechanism in evolution.
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