Article

Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 85-98

First online:

Centrosomes and cancer: how cancer cells divide with too many centrosomes

  • Susana A. GodinhoAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School
  • , Mijung KwonAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School
  • , David PellmanAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical SchoolDepartment of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Children’s HospitalHoward Hughes Medical Institute Email author 

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Abstract

Precise control of centrosome number is crucial for bipolar spindle assembly and accurate transmission of genetic material to daughter cells. Failure to properly control centrosome number results in supernumerary centrosomes, which are frequently found in cancer cells. This presents a paradox: during mitosis, cells with more than two centrosomes are prone to multipolar mitoses and cell death, however, cancer cells possessing extra centrosomes usually divide successfully. One mechanism frequently utilized by cancer cells to escape death caused by multipolar mitoses is the clustering of supernumerary centrosomes into bipolar arrays. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which cancer cells can suppress multipolar mitoses is beginning to emerge. Here, we review what’s currently known about centrosome clustering mechanisms and discuss potential strategies to target these mechanisms for the selective killing of cancer cells.

Keywords

Centrosomes Mitosis Multipolar Tetraploidy Cancer HSET