From stem cell to embryo without centrioles.
Stevens NR., Raposo AA., Basto R., St Johnston D., Raff JW.
Centrosome asymmetry plays a key role in ensuring the asymmetric division of Drosophila neural stem cells (neuroblasts [NBs]) and male germline stem cells (GSCs) [1-3]. In both cases, one centrosome is anchored close to a specific cortical region during interphase, thus defining the orientation of the spindle during the ensuing mitosis. To test whether asymmetric centrosome behavior is a general feature of stem cells, we have studied female GSCs, which divide asymmetrically, producing another GSC and a cystoblast. The cystoblast then divides and matures into an oocyte, a process in which centrosomes exhibit a series of complex behaviors proposed to play a crucial role in oogenesis [4-6]. We show that the interphase centrosome does not define spindle orientation in female GSCs and that DSas-4 mutant GSCs , lacking centrioles and centrosomes, invariably divide asymmetrically to produce cystoblasts that proceed normally through oogenesis-remarkably, oocyte specification, microtubule organization, and mRNA localization are all unperturbed. Mature oocytes can be fertilized, but embryos that cannot support centriole replication arrest very early in development. Thus, centrosomes are dispensable for oogenesis but essential for early embryogenesis. These results reveal that asymmetric centrosome behavior is not an essential feature of stem cell divisions.