The centrosome and its mode of inheritance: the reduction of the centrosome during gametogenesis and its restoration during fertilization

Dev Biol. 1994 Oct;165(2):299-335. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1994.1256.


Neither the restoration of the centrosome during fertilization nor its reduction during gametogenesis is fully understood, but both are pivotal events in development. During each somatic cell cycle, the chromosomes, cytoplasm, and centrosomes duplicate in interphase, and all three split in two during each cell division. While it has long been recognized that both the sperm and the egg contribute equal haploid genomes during fertilization and that the vast majority of the cytoplasm is contributed by the egg, the relative contributions of the centrosome by each gamete are still in question. This article explores centrosome inheritance patterns and considers nine integral and secondarily derived activities of the centrosome. Boveri once hypothesized that "The ripe egg possesses all of the elements necessary for development save an active division-center. The sperm, on the other hand, possesses such a center but lacks the protoplasmic substratum in which to operate. In this respect the egg and sperm are complementary structures; their union in syngamy thus restores to each the missing element necessary to further development." This article reviews the evidence gathered from 11 experimental strategies used to test this theory. While the majority of these approaches supports the hypothesis that the sperm introduces the centrosome at fertilization, the pattern did not reveal itself as universal, since parthenogenesis occurs in nature and can be induced artificially, since centrosome and centriole form de novo in extracts from unfertilized eggs and since the centrosome is derived from maternal sources during fertilization in some systems--notably, in mice. Models of the centrosome are proposed, along with speculative mechanisms which might lead to the cloaking of the reproducing element of the maternal centrosome during oogenesis and the retention of this structure by the paternal centrosome during spermatogenesis. Proteins essential for microtubule nucleation, like gamma-tubulin, are retained in the cytoplasm during oogenesis, but are largely lost during spermatogenesis. It is further postulated that the restoration of the zygotic centrosome at fertilization requires the attraction of maternal centrosomal components (in particular, gamma-tubulin and the 25S "gamma-some" particle) to the paternal reproducing element; this, along with post-translational modifications (including phosphorylation, disulfide reduction, and calcium ion binding), creates a functional zygote centrosome by blending both maternal and paternal constituents.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Centrosome / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertilization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oogenesis*
  • Species Specificity
  • Sperm-Ovum Interactions
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology*
  • Zygote / physiology*
  • Zygote / ultrastructure