Centrioles are cylindrical cell organelles with a ninefold symmetric peripheral microtubule array that is essential to template cilia and flagella. They are built around a central cartwheel assembly that is organized through homo-oligomerization of the centriolar protein SAS-6, but whether SAS-6 self-assembly can dictate cartwheel and thereby centriole symmetry is unclear. Here we show that Leishmania major SAS-6 crystallizes as a 9-fold symmetric cartwheel and provide the X-ray structure of this assembly at a resolution of 3.5 Å. We furthermore demonstrate that oligomerization of Leishmania SAS-6 can be inhibited by a small molecule in vitro and provide indications for its binding site. Our results firmly establish that SAS-6 can impose cartwheel symmetry on its own and indicate how this process might occur mechanistically in vivo. Importantly, our data also provide a proof-of-principle that inhibition of SAS-6 oligomerization by small molecules is feasible. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01812.001.
Centrioles organise centrosomes and template cilia and flagella. Several centriole and centrosome proteins have been linked to microcephaly (MCPH), a neuro-developmental disease associated with small brain size. CPAP (MCPH6) and STIL (MCPH7) are required for centriole assembly, but it is unclear how mutations in them lead to microcephaly. We show that the TCP domain of CPAP constitutes a novel proline recognition domain that forms a 1:1 complex with a short, highly conserved target motif in STIL. Crystal structures of this complex reveal an unusual, all-? structure adopted by the TCP domain and explain how a microcephaly mutation in CPAP compromises complex formation. Through point mutations, we demonstrate that complex formation is essential for centriole duplication in vivo. Our studies provide the first structural insight into how the malfunction of centriole proteins results in human disease and also reveal that the CPAP-STIL interaction constitutes a conserved key step in centriole biogenesis. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01071.001.
Centrioles are cylindrical, ninefold symmetrical structures with peripheral triplet microtubules strictly required to template cilia and flagella. The highly conserved protein SAS-6 constitutes the center of the cartwheel assembly that scaffolds centrioles early in their biogenesis. We determined the x-ray structure of the amino-terminal domain of SAS-6 from zebrafish, and we show that recombinant SAS-6 self-associates in vitro into assemblies that resemble cartwheel centers. Point mutations are consistent with the notion that centriole formation in vivo depends on the interactions that define the self-assemblies observed here. Thus, these interactions are probably essential to the structural organization of cartwheel centers.
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