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Association of centrioles with clusters of apical vesicles in mitotic thyroid epithelial cells. Are centrioles involved in directing secretion?


The ultrastructure of thyroid epithelial cells in mitosis has been investigated. A spatial association is described between clusters of apical vesicles (believed to contain thyroglobulin destined for secretion into the follicular lumen) and centrioles, in late prophase and late telophase cells. Quantitative techniques demonstrate the statistical significance of this association and suggest that it is not related to proximity of the Golgi apparatus or to the location of the centriole in the cell, which changes considerably during these phases of mitosis. The physical basis for this association remains uncertain, but microtubules emanating from the pericentriolar area may be involved.

In interphase cells, centrioles are located very close to the follicular lumen, where the majority of apical vesicles are also found. The association of centrioles with clusters of apical vesicles also in mitotic cells suggests that in interphase cells the apically located centrioles may serve as a focus for apical vesicles, helping to direct these secretory vesicles toward the follicular lumen and to maintain cellular polarization. Previous studies demonstrating that centrioles can act as microtubule organizing centers in interphase cells and studies linking microtubules and secretion also tend to support this hypothesis.

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Correspondence to Dr. Joseph D. Zeligs.

Additional information

The author is grateful to Drs. Jan Wolff, Lars E. Ericson, and Seymour H. Wollman for useful discussions and to Mr. Franklin E. Reed for expert technical assistance.

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Zeligs, J.D. Association of centrioles with clusters of apical vesicles in mitotic thyroid epithelial cells. Are centrioles involved in directing secretion?. Cell Tissue Res. 201, 11–21 (1979).

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Key words

  • Centriole
  • Thyroid epithelial cell
  • Secretion
  • Microtubule