Kinetochores are large protein complexes that link sister chromatids to the spindle and transduce microtubule dynamics into chromosome movement. In budding yeast, the kinetochore-microtubule interface is formed by the plus end-associated Dam1 complex and the kinetochore-resident Ndc80 complex, but how they work in combination and whether a physical association between them is critical for chromosome segregation is poorly understood. Here, we define structural elements required for the Ndc80-Dam1 interaction and probe their function in vivo. A novel ndc80 allele, selectively impaired in Dam1 binding, displayed growth and chromosome segregation defects. Its combination with an N-terminal truncation resulted in lethality, demonstrating essential but partially redundant roles for the Ndc80 N-tail and Ndc80-Dam1 interface. In contrast, mutations in the calponin homology domain of Ndc80 abrogated kinetochore function and were not compensated by the presence of Dam1. Our experiments shed light on how microtubule couplers cooperate and impose important constraints on structural models for outer kinetochore assembly.
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