Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, Volume 129, Issue 6, pp 667-686

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The mammalian centrosome and its functional significance

  • Heide SchattenAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri Email author 


Primarily known for its role as major microtubule organizing center, the centrosome is increasingly being recognized for its functional significance in key cell cycle regulating events. We are now at the beginning of understanding the centrosome’s functional complexities and its major impact on directing complex interactions and signal transduction cascades important for cell cycle regulation. The centrosome orchestrates entry into mitosis, anaphase onset, cytokinesis, G1/S transition, and monitors DNA damage. Recently, the centrosome has also been recognized as major docking station where regulatory complexes accumulate including kinases and phosphatases as well as numerous other cell cycle regulators that utilize the centrosome as platform to coordinate multiple cell cycle-specific functions. Vesicles that are translocated along microtubules to and away from centrosomes may also carry enzymes or substrates that use centrosomes as main docking station. The centrosome’s role in various diseases has been recognized and a wealth of data has been accumulated linking dysfunctional centrosomes to cancer, Alstrom syndrome, various neurological disorders, and others. Centrosome abnormalities and dysfunctions have been associated with several types of infertility. The present review highlights the centrosome’s significant roles in cell cycle events in somatic and reproductive cells and discusses centrosome abnormalities and implications in disease.


Centrosomes Microtubules Cell cycle Mitosis Centrosome proteins Centrosome functions MTOC