Axon Extension Occurs Independently of Centrosomal Microtubule Nucleation

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Science  07 Jan 2010:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1182179


Microtubules are polymeric protein structures and components of the cytoskeleton. Their dynamic polymerization is important for diverse cellular functions. The centrosome is the classical site of microtubule nucleation and is thought to be essential for axon growth and neuronal differentiation—processes that require microtubule assembly. Here, we found that the centrosome loses its function as a microtubule organizing center (MTOC) during neuronal development. Axons still extended and regenerated through acentrosomal microtubule nucleation and axons continued to grow after laser ablation of the centrosome in early neuronal development. Thus, decentralized microtubule assembly enables axon extension and regeneration and, after axon initiation, acentrosomal microtubule nucleation arranges the cytoskeleton, which is the source of the sophisticated morphology of neurons.