The centrosome in Drosophila oocyte development

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2000;49:385-407. doi: 10.1016/s0070-2153(99)49019-2.


The Drosophila oocyte is a highly specialized cell type whose development utilizes MTOCs in various contexts. Figure 4 (see color insert) summarizes the characteristics of the MTOCs at different stages of oogenesis. Polarized mitoses are required to achieve oocyte determination. In the asymmetric germ-cell divisions that culminate in the egg chamber, the mitotic centrosomes are anchored to the spectrosome or fusome in order to produce the regular branching pattern of the cyst cells. It appears that the primary role of the fusome is to orchestrate the polarity and synchrony of oogenic mitoses. In the absence of fusomes or anchored spindles, the regular interconnected cyst network is lost and the oocyte does not differentiate. It is not known if the spindle itself is asymmetric, or whether either centrosome has equal potential to interact with the fusome. Several models can explain the need for polarized mitoses for oocyte differentiation. In one, an unequal distribution of unknown oocyte differentiation factors occurs from as early as the first cystoblast division. Here, the fusome may be required for the distribution of the factors. In another model, there is a mechanism that measures the number of ring canals in the cell, limiting the choice of oocyte to two potential pro-oocytes. In this model, polarized, synchronous divisions must occur to produce only two cells with the highest number of ring canals. In both of these models the centrosome plays an indirect role. A critical event in the determination of the oocyte is the formation of the MTOC. The oocyte MTOC forms shortly after completion of the germ cell mitoses and establishes a microtubule array along which factors required for oocyte determination are transported. It is unclear how this single MTOC forms in the 16-cell cyst, how the centrosomes become inactivated in the adjoining 15 nurse cells, or why the inactivated centrioles are transported into the oocyte. No molecular components of the MTOC are known except for centrosomin, which accumulates at the MTOC relatively late, at approximately stage 5 or 6 of oogenesis. The MTOC plays a central role in establishing the oocyte's polar coordinates. The oocyte microtubule array is required for the polar localization of axis-determining factors. At midoogenesis the MTOC appears to mediate the reversal of the microtubule array and the migration of the nucleus in the oocyte. The posterior follicle cells signal this reversal after receiving the gurken signal. What changes occur at the MTOC to trigger this cytoskeletal rearrangement? A better understanding of the MTOC's molecular components is necessary before we can begin to unravel the mechanisms underlying these events. The morphology of the MTOC changes after it shifts to the oocyte anterior. Staining with anti-centrosomin antibodies shows that the MTOC changes from discrete nucleus-associated bodies into a broad structure associated with the anterior cortex. The molecular mechanisms underlying this structural rearrangement of the MTOC at midoogenesis are presently unknown. Meiosis I occurs in the absence of centrosomes, but meiosis II spindles are linked by a shared, acentriolar, astral MTOC. The organization of the meiosis I spindle poles requires the NCD motor protein; however, the meiosis I spindle poles are acentriolar and contain no known centrosomal core proteins. The meiosis II astral spindle pole has a unique ring-shaped morphology and contains centrosomal proteins, such as gamma-tubulin. Strong mutations in the maternal gamma Tub37C gene do not block meiosis I, but prevent the progression of meiosis II.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Centrosome / physiology*
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila / ultrastructure*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Oocytes / ultrastructure*