Dubbed first the “centre of the cell” over a century ago, the centrosome lies at the heart of one of the most cleverly orchestrated processesin biology – cell division. When things go wrong, it also plays a part in diseases such as cancer. Despite considerable progress in centrosome research, its precise molecular structure remains somewhat of an enigma. The Centrosome 3D consortium, co-ordinated by EMBO Member Luis Serrano, hopes to change his.
Funded by the Spanish government, Centrosome 3D involves more than eight Spanish research groups, including two other EMBO Members, Miquel Coll and Isabelle Vernos, and several EMBO Fellows. Together this multidisciplinary group will work on unravelling the complex molecular matrix of the centrosome, stripping it down to reveal its structure, components and behaviour. The Untangling a complex web Centrosome 3D consortium team will look in particular at the assemblyand interaction of proteins, mapping their location within the centrosome.
This approach will rely on a novel mix of experimental techniques including three dimensional electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance and structural bioinformatics. The ultimate goal is to gain a better structural understanding of the centrosome’s function and shed new light on its role in disease. Perhaps the most significant of these is cancer, but the consortium will also look at more recent links with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. In addition, Centrosome 3D will work with another Spanish consortium, Centrosome CAM, involving research groups based in and around Madrid.
© Lindsay Johnson, EMBO encounters Editor