Research Article

A mechanism for the elimination of the female gamete centrosome in Drosophila melanogaster

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Science  26 May 2016:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4866

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An important feature of fertilization is the asymmetric inheritance of centrioles. In most species it is the sperm that contributes the initial centriole, which builds the first centrosome that is essential for early development. However, given that centrioles are thought to be exceptionally stable structures, the mechanism behind centriole disappearance in the female germline remains elusive and paradoxical. Here, working in fruit flies, we elucidated a program for centriole maintenance. This program was led by Polo kinase and the pericentriolar matrix (PCM). The PCM was down-regulated in the female germline during oogenesis, which resulted in centriole loss. Perturbing this program prevented centriole loss, led to abnormal meiotic and mitotic divisions, and thus to female sterility. This mechanism challenges the view that centrioles are intrinsically stable structures and reveals general functions for Polo kinase and the PCM in centriole maintenance. We propose that regulation of this maintenance program is essential for successful sexual reproduction, and defines centriole life span in different tissues in homeostasis and disease, shaping the cytoskeleton.

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