Centrosomal deployment of gamma-tubulin and pericentrin: evidence for a microtubule-nucleating domain and a minus-end docking domain in certain mouse epithelial cells

Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1997;36(3):276-90. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0169(1997)36:3<276::AID-CM8>3.0.CO;2-5.


This report provides evidence for two functionally and spatially distinct centrosomal domains in certain mouse cochlear epithelial cells. The vast majority of microtubules elongate from sites associated with the apical cell surface in these cells rather than from pericentriolar material surrounding the immediate environs of their apically situate centrioles. The distribution of gamma-tubulin and pericentrin at cell apices has been examined while microtubule nucleation is progressing because these centrosomal proteins are believed to be essential for microtubule nucleation. Antibodies to both proteins bind to pericentriolar regions but no binding has been detected at the apical cell surface-associated sites where the ends of thousands of recently nucleated microtubules are concentrated. Sparse transient microtubule populations can be detected between pericentriolar regions and surface sites while microtubule assembly advances. A procedure apparently operates in which the pericentriolar region functions as a microtubule-nucleating domain and the cell surface-associated sites operate as docking domains which capture the minus ends of microtubules that migrate to them shortly after nucleation. Docking domains may include some components of the pericentriolar material that have been relocated at the cell apex. A docking element hypothesis for centrosomal control of minus end positioning and dynamics in animal cells generally is proposed. This investigation has also shown that the concentration of gamma-tubulin and pericentrin around centrioles differs spatially and quantitatively in ways that are characteristic for the four cell types studied. Some of these characteristics can be related to differences in control of microtubule number and positioning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / genetics
  • Antigens / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Centrioles
  • Centrosome / metabolism*
  • Cochlea / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Rabbits
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Antigens
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • pericentrin