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Reversible centriole depletion with an inhibitor of Polo-like kinase 4

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Science  05 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6239, pp. 1155-1160
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5111

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Giving an old organelle the old heave-ho

Centrioles are ancient cellular organelles that build centrosomes, the major microtubule-organizing centers in animal cells. Duplication of centrioles is tightly controlled to ensure that each dividing cell has precisely two centrosomes. Human cancer cells often have extra centrosomes, which has been hypothesized to confer a proliferative advantage. Wong et al. developed small molecules (centrinones) that allowed them to reversibly “delete” centrioles from cells (see the Perspective by Stearns). Surprisingly, cancer cells continued to divide in the absence of centrosomes, whereas normal cells stopped dividing.

Science, this issue p. 1155; see also p. 1091

Abstract

Centrioles are ancient organelles that build centrosomes, the major microtubule-organizing centers of animal cells. Extra centrosomes are a common feature of cancer cells. To investigate the importance of centrosomes in the proliferation of normal and cancer cells, we developed centrinone, a reversible inhibitor of Polo-like kinase 4 (Plk4), a serine-threonine protein kinase that initiates centriole assembly. Centrinone treatment caused centrosome depletion in human and other vertebrate cells. Centrosome loss irreversibly arrested normal cells in a senescence-like G1 state by a p53-dependent mechanism that was independent of DNA damage, stress, Hippo signaling, extended mitotic duration, or segregation errors. In contrast, cancer cell lines with normal or amplified centrosome numbers could proliferate indefinitely after centrosome loss. Upon centrinone washout, each cancer cell line returned to an intrinsic centrosome number “set point.” Thus, cells with cancer-associated mutations fundamentally differ from normal cells in their response to centrosome loss.

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