Microtubules are organized independently of the centrosome in Drosophila neurons

Michelle M. Nguyen, Michelle C. Stone, Melissa M. Rolls

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64 Scopus citations


Background: The best-studied arrangement of microtubules is that organized by the centrosome, a cloud of microtubule nucleating and anchoring proteins is clustered around centrioles. However, noncentrosomal microtubule arrays are common in many differentiated cells, including neurons. Although microtubules are not anchored at neuronal centrosomes, it remains unclear whether the centrosome plays a role in organizing neuronal microtubules. We use Drosophila as a model system to determine whether centrosomal microtubule nucleation is important in mature neurons.Results: In developing and mature neurons, centrioles were not surrounded by the core nucleation protein γ-tubulin. This suggests that the centrioles do not organize functional centrosomes in Drosophila neurons in vivo. Consistent with this idea, centriole position was not correlated with a specific region of the cell body in neurons, and growing microtubules did not cluster around the centriole, even after axon severing when the number of growing plus ends is dramatically increased. To determine whether the centrosome was required for microtubule organization in mature neurons, we used two approaches. First, we used DSas-4 centriole duplication mutants. In these mutants, centrioles were present in many larval sensory neurons, but they were not fully functional. Despite reduced centriole function, microtubule orientation was normal in axons and dendrites. Second, we used laser ablation to eliminate the centriole, and again found that microtubule polarity in axons and dendrites was normal, even 3 days after treatment.Conclusion: We conclude that the centrosome is not a major site of microtubule nucleation in Drosophila neurons, and is not required for maintenance of neuronal microtubule organization in these cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalNeural Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 6 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Neuroscience


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