A novel mechanism of microtubule length-dependent force to pull centrosomes toward the cell center

Bioarchitecture. 2011 Mar;1(2):74-79. doi: 10.4161/bioa.1.2.15549.


The centrosome is a major microtubule-organizing center in animal cells, and its intracellular positioning is critical for defining intracellular architecture. The centrosome positions itself at the cell center. Centrosome centration depends on the microtubule cytoskeleton. To accomplish robust centration regardless of the cell size or cell shape, it has been assumed that the force mediated by the microtubules depends on microtubule length. However, a concrete mechanism to generate forces to pull the centrosome in a microtubule length-dependent manner has been elusive. Recently, we successfully demonstrated that centrosome-directed movement of intracellular organelles along microtubules drives centrosome centration in the Caenorhabditis elegans early embryo. Based on this observation, we proposed the centrosome-organelle mutual pulling model in which the reaction forces of organelle transport generated along microtubules act as a driving force that pulls the centrosomes toward the cell center. This is the first experiment-based model that accounts for the microtubule length-dependent pulling force generated in the cytoplasm contributing to centrosome centration. Intriguingly, this model is consistent with a recent estimation that the pulling force is proportional to the cubic length of microtubules.