Portrait de Theodor Boveri en 1908, Wikipedia CC-PD

The centrosome is the main microtubule organising centre (MTOC) in animal cells and plays an important role in cellular function and regulating cell division. Theodor Boveri first described the centrosome in 1888 and ever since, there has been enormous progress in our understanding of this organelle.


In Open Biology, our special article collection Focus on Centrosome Biology showcases some of the exciting work from leaders in the field over recent years. Here we highlight just some of the research and reviews in the collection which help to improve knowledge on centrosome function, evolution and abnormalities.


PLK4 overexpression leads to multiple centrosomes in a p53 dependent manner

Staining of centrosome in human cell line U-2 OS (HPA037682). Human Protein Atlas http://www.proteinatlas.org

Using elegant mouse experiments, Coelho et al describe what happens to centrosome duplication when PLK4 is overexpressed in different mouse tissues. PLK4 has been previously implicated in centrosome duplication, however this study goes a step further and provides new insights into the role of PLK4 and its relationship to p53 tumour suppressor.



Role of LIMK1 in centrosome integrity

Drawing parallels with a suspension bridge structure, where suspending cables (microtubules) are connected to a central tower (the centrosome). Image: Cable-stayed bridge spanning the Neva River at St. Petersburg, Russia. Credit: Evgeny Gerashchenko. CC-BY 3.0

LIM Kinase I (LIMK1) has important roles in actin cytoskeleton dynamics. Ou et al describe that depletion of LIMK1 leads to defective spindle organization and centrosome integrity. Using elegant biochemical and cell biological experiments, the authors find that dynein light intermediate chains LIC1 and 2 are substrates of LIMK1. LIC1 and 2 function downstream of LIMK1 in maintaining centrosome integrity during mitosis.


A Ubiquitin ligase complex in Centriole biogenesis 

SKP-Cullin complex, βTRCP is a ubiquitin ligase complex. Using mass spectrometry-based approach Arquint et al describe that STIL significantly accumulates upon inhibition of βTRCP in interphase. This suggests that βTRCP targets STIL for ubiquitin mediated degradation. Interestingly, the group also discovered that a motif in STIL called the DSG motif is important for βTRCP binding. Yet another player in this process is CDK2, which counteracts this process by stabilizing STIL and is required for STIL localization to centrioles.


ZIKV infections lead to supernumerary foci of centriolar proteins and multipolar spindle assembly in HeLa cells. Wolf et al https://doi.org/10.1098/rsob.160231

Zika Virus and Microcephaly

The cellular phenotypes of primary autosomal microcephaly (MCPH) are altered centrosome number and spindle positioning. Wolf et al set out to investigate whether Zika virus infection, which leads to congenital microcephaly also shares similar phenotypes. Using cellular models, these researchers indeed found that Zika Virus infection leads to supernumerary centriolar foci and defects in spindle positioning.


Structure and function of the centriole

Centrioles come in pairs and are oriented perpendicular to each other. An insightful review on centriole structure and assembly by Gang Dong discusses in detail recent advances in high resolution structural characterization of core centriolar components.


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