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J Cell Biochem. 2004 Apr 1;91(5):904-14.

Functional role of centrosomes in spindle assembly and organization.

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Programme of Cell Biology and Biophysics, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


The centrosome is the main MT organizing center in animal cells, and has traditionally been regarded as essential for organization of the bipolar spindle that facilitates chromosome segregation during mitosis. Centrosomes are associated with the poles of the mitotic spindle, and several cell types require these organelles for spindle formation. However, most plant cells and some female meiotic systems get along without this organelle, and centrosome-independent spindle assembly has now been identified within some centrosome containing cells. How can such observations, which point to mutually incompatible conclusions regarding the requirement of centrosomes in spindle formation, be interpreted? With emphasis on the functional role of centrosomes, this article summarizes the current models of spindle formation, and outlines how observations obtained from spindle assembly assays in vitro may reconcile conflicting opinions about the mechanism of spindle assembly. It is further described how Drosophila mutants are used to address the functional interrelationships between individual centrosomal proteins and spindle formation in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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