Microtubule nucleation and organization without centrosomes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Centrosomes play various critical roles in animal cells such as microtubule nucleation and stabilization, mitotic spindle morphogenesis, and spindle orientation. Land plants have lost centrosomes and yet must execute many of these functions. Recent studies have revealed the crucial roles played by morphologically distinct cytoplasmic microtubule-organizing centers (MTOCs) in initiating spindle bipolarity and maintaining spindle orientation robustness. These MTOCs resemble centrosomes in many aspects, implying an evolutionary divergence of MT-organizing structures in plants. However, their functions rely on conserved nucleation and amplification mechanisms, indicating a similarity in MT network establishment between animals and plants. Moreover, recent characterization of a plant-specific MT minus-end tracking protein suggests that plants have developed functionally equivalent modules to stabilize and organize MTs at minus ends. These findings support the theory that plants overcome centrosome loss by utilizing modified but substantially conserved mechanisms to organize MT networks.

publication date

  • December 2018