Subdiffraction imaging of centrosomes reveals higher-order organizational features of pericentriolar material

Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Nov;14(11):1148-58. doi: 10.1038/ncb2591. Epub 2012 Oct 21.


The centrosome is the main microtubule organization centre of animal cells. It is composed of a centriole pair surrounded by pericentriolar material (PCM). Traditionally described as amorphous, the architecture of the PCM is not known, although its intricate mode of assembly alludes to the presence of a functional, hierarchical structure. Here we used subdiffraction imaging to reveal organizational features of the PCM. Interphase PCM components adopt a concentric toroidal distribution of discrete diameter around centrioles. Positional mapping of multiple non-overlapping epitopes revealed that pericentrin (PCNT) is an elongated molecule extending away from the centriole. We find that PCM components occupy separable spatial domains within mitotic PCM that are maintained in the absence of microtubule nucleation complexes and further implicate PCNT and CDK5RAP2 in the organization and assembly of PCM. Globally, this work highlights the role of higher-order PCM organization in the regulation of centrosome assembly and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Centrioles / metabolism
  • Centrosome / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Mitosis / physiology