Condensation of pericentrin proteins in human cells illuminates phase separation in centrosome assembly

Xueer Jiang, Dac Bang Tam Ho, Karan Mahe, Jennielee Mia, Guadalupe Sepulveda, Mark Antkowiak, Linhao Jiang, Soichiro Yamada, Li En Jao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


At the onset of mitosis, centrosomes expand the pericentriolar material (PCM) to maximize their microtubule-organizing activity. This step, termed centrosome maturation, ensures proper spindle organization and faithful chromosome segregation. However, as the centrosome expands, how PCM proteins are recruited and held together without membrane enclosure remains elusive. We found that endogenously expressed pericentrin (PCNT), a conserved PCM scaffold protein, condenses into dynamic granules during late G2/early mitosis before incorporating into mitotic centrosomes. Furthermore, the N-terminal portion of PCNT, enriched with conserved coiled-coils (CCs) and low-complexity regions (LCRs), phase separates into dynamic condensates that selectively recruit PCM proteins and nucleate microtubules in cells. We propose that CCs and LCRs, two prevalent sequence features in the centrosomal proteome, are preserved under evolutionary pressure in part to mediate liquid-liquid phase separation, a process that bestows upon the centrosome distinct properties critical for its assembly and functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjcs258897
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell division
  • Centrosome maturation
  • Liquid-liquid phase separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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