Team Biology at Examples.com
Created by: Team Biology at Examples.com, Last Updated: July 5, 2024


Dive into the fascinating world of centrioles with our comprehensive guide! These cylindrical structures play a pivotal role in cell division, particularly in the formation of spindle fibers that separate chromosomes. Through detailed examples, we’ll explore their structure, function, and significance in both animal cells and the wider biological landscape. This guide is tailored for students, educators, and biology enthusiasts seeking to deepen their understanding of cellular biology. With a focus on clarity and accessibility, we make complex concepts approachable, enriching your knowledge of cell biology’s intricate mechanisms.

What is Centriole?

Centrioles are cylindrical structures that are found in most eukaryotic cells, though they are absent in higher plants and most fungi. Typically, a centriole is composed of a short cylinder of microtubules arranged in a circle with a pattern of nine groups of microtubules. Each group contains three microtubules, and this structure is referred to as a “triplet.” The two centrioles in a cell are positioned perpendicular to each other within a region known as the centrosome, which acts as a major microtubule-organizing center and plays a critical role in the spatial arrangement of the cell’s cytoskeleton.

Structure of Centriole

Structure of Centriole

Centrioles are cylindrical structures found in most eukaryotic cells, except for most fungi and all plants. They are key components of the cytoskeleton and play a crucial role in the process of cell division. A centriole is typically composed of nine sets of microtubule triplets arranged in a cylinder. Each microtubule is a hollow tube made up of tubulin proteins. The arrangement of these triplets gives the centriole a distinct, nine-fold symmetry. The centrioles are usually found in pairs and positioned perpendicular to each other within a region of the cell known as the centrosome. This organization is crucial for their role in cell division, particularly during the formation of the mitotic spindle, which is essential for distributing chromosomes into daughter cells.

Functions of Centriole

Functions of Centriole

Centrioles play several vital roles in the cell:

  1. Cell Division: During mitosis and meiosis, centrioles help in organizing the mitotic spindle, a structure made of microtubules, which segregates chromosomes into daughter cells. Centrioles migrate to opposite ends of the cell, helping to polarize cell division.
  2. Cilia and Flagella Formation: Centrioles serve as basal bodies for the formation of cilia and flagella, which are extensions of the cell surface used for movement or sensing the external environment. The basal body templates the arrangement of microtubules in cilia and flagella, which is crucial for their function.
  3. Cell Polarity and Shape: Centrioles play a role in determining the orientation and spatial arrangement of the cell. This is crucial for cell movement, formation of cellular extensions, and the organization of the internal structure of the cell.
  4. Sensory Functions: In some specialized cells, centrioles (in the form of basal bodies) are involved in sensory functions, such as in the photoreceptor cells of the eye where they are crucial for the development and function of the light-detecting outer segments.

Centriole in Plant Cells

Centrioles are absent in most plant cells. Plants have a different mechanism for cell division and do not form centrioles or a classical centrosome. Instead of centrioles, plant cells organize their microtubules using other structures and proteins to form the pre-prophase band, spindle, and phragmoplast during cell division. This difference highlights the evolutionary divergence in the mechanisms of cell division between plant and animal cells. However, some lower plants and algae do have centriole-like structures that play roles similar to those in animal cells, particularly in the formation of flagella.

Centriole Duplication

Centriole duplication is a highly regulated process that occurs once per cell cycle to ensure that each daughter cell inherits a complete centrosome. This process begins in the S phase (DNA synthesis phase) of the cell cycle and is completed by the end of G2 phase, just before mitosis begins. Duplication initiates with the formation of a procentriole near the base of each pre-existing centriole. The procentrioles then elongate, maturing into new centrioles that remain perpendicular to their parental centrioles. The duplication cycle is tightly coordinated with the cell cycle to prevent the formation of extra centrioles.


What is the role of a centriole in a cell?

Centrioles are crucial for cell division, helping organize the mitotic spindle and ensuring accurate chromosome segregation.

How does a centriole look like?

A centriole resembles a small, cylindrical structure, composed of nine triplets of microtubules arranged in a ring.

Who discovered centrioles?

Centrioles were first discovered by Edouard Van Beneden in 1883, during his research on the cell division process.

The Golgi apparatus is a crucial cellular organelle responsible for modifying, sorting, and packaging proteins and lipids for secretion or use within the cell. Acting as the cell’s post office, it ensures that cellular products are correctly modified and sent to their proper destinations, supporting cell maintenance, growth, and communication.

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