Centrosome function: sometimes less is more

Traffic. 2009 May;10(5):472-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2009.00880.x. Epub 2009 Jan 24.


Tight regulation of centrosome duplication is critical to ensure that centrosome number doubles once and only once per cell cycle. Superimposed onto this centrosome duplication cycle is a functional centrosome cycle in which they alternate between phases of quiescence and robust microtubule (MT) nucleation and MT-anchoring activities. In vertebrate cycling cells, interphase centrioles accumulate less pericentriolar material (PCM), reducing their MT nucleation capacity. In mitosis, centrosomes mature, accumulating more PCM to increase their nucleation and anchoring capacities to form robust MT asters. Interestingly, functional cycles of centrosomes can be altered to suit the cell's needs. Some interphase centrosomes function as a microtubule-organizing center by increasing their ability to anchor MTs to form centrosomal radial arrays. Other interphase centrosomes maintain their MT nucleation capacity but reduce/eliminate their MT-anchoring capacity. Recent work demonstrates that Drosophila cells take this to the extreme, whereby centrioles lose all detectable PCM during interphase, offering an explanation as to how centrosome-deficient flies develop to adulthood. Drosophila stem cells further modify the functional cycle by differentially regulating their two centrioles - a situation that seems important for stem cell asymmetric divisions, as misregulation of centrosome duplication in stem/progenitor cells can promote tumor formation. Here, we review recent findings that describe variations in the functional cycle of centrosomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Division
  • Centrioles / metabolism
  • Centrioles / physiology
  • Centrosome / metabolism*
  • Centrosome / physiology
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Interphase / physiology
  • Microtubule-Organizing Center / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Mitosis
  • Stem Cells / metabolism