Infoscience

Review

The arithmetic of centrosome biogenesis

How do cells regulate centrosome number? A canonical duplication cycle generates two centrosomes from one in most proliferating cells. Centrioles are key to this process, and molecules such as centrins, SAS-4 and ZYG-1 govern daughter centriole formation. Cdk2 activity probably couples centrosome duplication with the S phase, and a licensing mechanism appears to limit centrosome duplication to once per cell cycle. However, such mechanisms must be altered in some cells--for example, spermatocytes--in which centrosome duplication and DNA replication are uncoupled. There are also alternative pathways of centrosome biogenesis. For example, one centrosome is reconstituted from two gametes at fertilization; in this case, the most common strategy involves differential contributions of centrioles and pericentriolar material (PCM) from each gamete. Furthermore, centrioles can sometimes form de novo from no apparent template. This occurs, for instance, in the early mouse embryo and in parthenogenetic species and might rely on a pre-existing seed that resides within PCM but is not visible by ultrastructural analysis.

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