Apparent diffusive motion of centrin foci in living cells: implications for diffusion-based motion in centriole duplication

Phys Biol. 2011 Apr;8(2):026010. doi: 10.1088/1478-3975/8/2/026010. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


The degree to which diffusion contributes to positioning cellular structures is an open question. Here we investigate the question of whether diffusive motion of centrin granules would allow them to interact with the mother centriole. The role of centrin granules in centriole duplication remains unclear, but some proposed functions of these granules, for example, in providing pre-assembled centriole subunits, or by acting as unstable 'pre-centrioles' that need to be captured by the mother centriole (La Terra et al 2005 J. Cell Biol. 168 713-22), require the centrin foci to reach the mother. To test whether diffusive motion could permit such interactions in the necessary time scale, we measured the motion of centrin-containing foci in living human U2OS cells. We found that these centrin foci display apparently diffusive undirected motion. Using the apparent diffusion constant obtained from these measurements, we calculated the time scale required for diffusion to capture by the mother centrioles and found that it would greatly exceed the time available in the cell cycle. We conclude that mechanisms invoking centrin foci capture by the mother, whether as a pre-centriole or as a source of components to support later assembly, would require a form of directed motility of centrin foci that has not yet been observed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival
  • Centrioles / metabolism*
  • Diffusion
  • Humans
  • Motion
  • Time Factors
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / metabolism*


  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination