PerspectiveCell Biology

Centrioles, in absentia

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Science  05 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6239, pp. 1091-1092
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4860

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Summary

The centriole is one of the organelles that defines eukaryotes. It was present in the last universal common eukaryotic ancestor (1), and persists in all major branches of the eukaryotic tree. The centriole nucleates the cilium, which is involved in sensory signaling and in cell motility. In animal cells, the centriole is also the hub of the centrosome, an accumulation of microtubule-nucleating and -organizing proteins that determine the spatial arrangement of the microtubule cytoskeleton. Duplication and segregation of the centrioles are strictly controlled such that each cell begins the cell division cycle with a single pair of centrioles, which duplicate only once and are then segregated on the poles of the mitotic spindle (2). On page 1155 of this issue, Wong et al. (3) describe a small-molecule inhibitor of centriole duplication that allowed them to probe the effects of centriole loss. Surprisingly, it appears that some cancer cells can proliferate indefinitely without centrioles, whereas normal cells cannot.