Centrosomes, microtubules and neuronal development

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2011 Dec;48(4):349-58. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2011.05.004. Epub 2011 May 23.


The formation of complex nervous systems requires processes that coordinate proliferation, migration and differentiation of neuronal cells. The remarkable morphological transformations of neurons as they migrate, extend axons and dendrites and establish synaptic connections, imply a strictly regulated process of structural organization and dynamic remodeling of the cytoskeleton. The centrosome serves as the main cytoskeleton-organizing center in the cell and is the classical site of microtubule nucleation and anchoring. Mutations in genes encoding centrosomal proteins cause severe neurodevelopmental disorders that lead to several neuropsychiatric diseases, such as lissencephaly, microcephaly and schizophrenia. While the centrosome has been considered crucial for coordinating neuronal migration and polarization, accumulating experimental findings seems to rule out a central role for the centrosome at later stages of neuronal development. Here, we will review these observations and discuss the importance of centrosomal and acentrosomal microtubule organization for neuronal development. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Neuronal Function'.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Centrosome / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism
  • Mental Disorders / pathology
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology