There is now evidence for the first time that centrosomes, which play a key role in cell division, may carry their own genetic machinery, answering a controversial question of long standing. Using a technique he developed, Dr. Palazzo isolated relatively large quantities of centrosomes from the clam eggs. The Alliegros, using highly sophisticated techniques they developed, extracted a set of RNAs called cnRNAs, demonstrating their association with centrosomes biochemically and in situ. Exhaustive database analysis revealed no matches to known nucleotides, translated nucleotide, or predicted protein sequences, founding the conclusion that they are unique and intrinsic to the centrosome.
Centrosome irregularities have been linked to malignancies, so the discovery may also be applicable to cancer research.
"The next step will be to determine what role these RNAs might play in centrosome replication, the cell cycle, or the development of organisms," concludes Dr. Alliegro.