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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2012 Feb;24(1):14-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ceb.2011.12.012. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Pattern formation in centrosome assembly.

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  • 1The Medical Research Council Cancer Cell Unit, Hutchison/MRC Research Centre, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 OXZ, United Kingdom. robertmahen@gmail.com


A striking but poorly explained feature of cell division is the ability to assemble and maintain organelles not bounded by membranes, from freely diffusing components in the cytosol. This process is driven by information transfer across biological scales such that interactions at the molecular scale allow pattern formation at the scale of the organelle. One important example of such an organelle is the centrosome, which is the main microtubule organising centre in the cell. Centrosomes consist of two centrioles surrounded by a cloud of proteins termed the pericentriolar material (PCM). Profound structural and proteomic transitions occur in the centrosome during specific cell cycle stages, underlying events such as centrosome maturation during mitosis, in which the PCM increases in size and microtubule nucleating capacity. Here we use recent insights into the spatio-temporal behaviour of key regulators of centrosomal maturation, including Polo-like kinase 1, CDK5RAP2 and Aurora-A, to propose a model for the assembly and maintenance of the PCM through the mobility and local interactions of its constituent proteins. We argue that PCM structure emerges as a pattern from decentralised self-organisation through a reaction-diffusion mechanism, with or without an underlying template, rather than being assembled from a central structural template alone. Self-organisation of this kind may have broad implications for the maintenance of mitotic structures, which, like the centrosome, exist stably as supramolecular assemblies on the micron scale, based on molecular interactions at the nanometer scale.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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