Centrosomal and non-centrosomal microtubules

Biol Cell. May-Jun 1999;91(4-5):321-9.


While microtubule (MT) arrays in cells are often focused at the centrosome, a variety of cell types contain a substantial number of non-centrosomal MTs. Epithelial cells, neurons, and muscle cells all contain arrays of non-centrosomal MTs that are critical for these cells' specialized functions. There are several routes by which non-centrosomal MTs can arise, including release from the centrosome, cytoplasmic assembly, breakage or severing, and stabilization from non-centrosomal sites. Once formed, MTs that are not tethered to the centrosome must be organized, which can be accomplished by means of self-organization or by capture and nucleation of MTs where they are needed. The presence of free MTs requires stabilization of minus ends, either by MT-associated proteins or by an end-capping complex. Although some of the basic elements of free MT formation and organization are beginning to be understood, a great deal of work is still necessary before we have a complete picture of how non-centrosomal MT arrays are assembled in specific cell types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Centrosome / physiology*
  • Microtubules / physiology*