Regulated assembly of a supramolecular centrosome scaffold in vitro

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Science  15 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6236, pp. 808-812
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa3923

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Centrosomes are the major microtubule-organizing centers in animal cells. Key to this function is the somewhat mysterious pericentriolar material (PCM). Woodruff et al. describe the in vitro reconstitution of PCM assembly. In cells, PCM is recruited by centrioles to form centrosomes that nucleate and anchor microtubules. SPD-5, the main component of the PCM matrix in Caenorhabiditis elegans, polymerized in vitro to form micrometer-sized porous networks. SPD-5 polymerization was directly controlled by the polo family kinase Plk1 and Cep192/SPD-2, two conserved regulators that control PCM assembly across metazoans.

Science, this issue p. 808


The centrosome organizes microtubule arrays within animal cells and comprises two centrioles surrounded by an amorphous protein mass called the pericentriolar material (PCM). Despite the importance of centrosomes as microtubule-organizing centers, the mechanism and regulation of PCM assembly are not well understood. In Caenorhabditis elegans, PCM assembly requires the coiled-coil protein SPD-5. We found that recombinant SPD-5 could polymerize to form micrometer-sized porous networks in vitro. Network assembly was accelerated by two conserved regulators that control PCM assembly in vivo, Polo-like kinase-1 and SPD-2/Cep192. Only the assembled SPD-5 networks, and not unassembled SPD-5 protein, functioned as a scaffold for other PCM proteins. Thus, PCM size and binding capacity emerge from the regulated polymerization of one coiled-coil protein to form a porous network.

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