Epsilon-tubulin is required for centriole duplication and microtubule organization

Nat Cell Biol. 2003 Jan;5(1):71-6. doi: 10.1038/ncb900.


Centrosomes nucleate microtubules and serve as poles of the mitotic spindle. Centrioles are a core component of centrosomes and duplicate once per cell cycle. We previously identified epsilon-tubulin as a new member of the tubulin superfamily that localizes asymmetrically to the two centrosomes after duplication. We show that recruitment of epsilon-tubulin to the new centrosome can only occur after exit from S phase and that epsilon-tubulin is associated with the sub-distal appendages of mature centrioles. Xenopus laevis epsilon-tubulin was cloned and shown to be similar to human epsilon-tubulin in both sequence and localization. Depletion of epsilon-tubulin from Xenopus egg extracts blocks centriole duplication in S phase and formation of organized centrosome-independent microtubule asters in M phase. We conclude that epsilon-tubulin is a component of the sub-distal appendages of the centriole, explaining its asymmetric localization to old and new centrosomes, and that epsilon-tubulin is required for centriole duplication and organization of the pericentriolar material.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Centrioles / ultrastructure*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Female
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Leucine Zippers
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Ovum / cytology
  • Ovum / physiology
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Ranidae
  • S Phase
  • Sperm-Ovum Interactions / physiology
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • NIN protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Tubulin
  • GTP-Binding Proteins