Cell Biology

Centrosome Surfeit

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Science  28 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6140, pp. 1500
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6140.1500-d

Centrosome amplification is a hallmark of human tumors and is associated with aneuploidy and tumorigenesis. In fruit flies, even when extra centrosomes do not induce high levels of aneuploidy, spindle position defects cause an expansion of the neural stem cell (NSC) population and subsequent tumor formation. To investigate the consequences of centrosome amplification on mammalian NSCs during embryonic development, Marthiens et al. developed a mouse model in which centrosome numbers were increased in the developing central nervous system. Surprisingly, centrosome amplification caused microcephaly—a brain of reduced size but with otherwise normal architecture. This microcephaly resulted from defects in NSC division, which generated aneuploid cells that went on to die by apoptosis. These results may explain the etiology of certain types of microcephaly, which in humans have been associated with a number of centrosomal genes, and suggest that in the mammalian developing brain, centrosome amplification can cause depletion of the NSC pool.

Nat. Cell Biol. 15, 10.1038/ncb2746 (2013).

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