An important feature for life is what embryos receive from mom and dad upon fertilization. Oddly enough, centrioles, the structures responsible for cell division and flagella movement, are given by the paternal gamete. How oocytes, the maternal gametes, lose centrioles and the importance of doing so for female fertility has been an enigma since the 1930s. A team researchers have cracked this mystery, shedding light upon a critical mechanism whose deregulation leads to infertility, and that is important for the working of other cell types.
The relevance for sexual reproduction of losing centrioles in the oocyte was also not known. "When we artificially retained maternal centrioles, the resulting embryo had excessive centrioles (both maternal and paternal) resulting in abnormal divisions and aborted development, showing that centriole elimination is critical for sexual reproduction" says another author. "The regulation of centriole stability in other tissues, is likely to be critical for normal development and regeneration; this is something we are now pursuing", adds the senior author.