In Caenorhabditis elegans , five proteins are required for centriole duplication: SPD-2, ZYG-1, SAS-5, SAS-6, and SAS-4. Functional orthologues of all but SAS-5 have been found in other species. In Drosophila melanogaster and humans, Sak/Plk4, DSas-6/hSas-6, and DSas-4/CPAP—orthologues of ZYG-1, SAS-6, and SAS-4, respectively—are required for centriole duplication. Strikingly, all three fly proteins can induce the de novo formation of centriole-like structures when overexpressed in unfertilized eggs. Here, we find that of eight candidate duplication factors identified in cultured fly cells, only two, Ana2 and Asterless (Asl), share this ability. Asl is now known to be essential for centriole duplication in flies, but no equivalent protein has been found in worms. We show that Ana2 is the likely functional orthologue of SAS-5 and that it is also related to the vertebrate STIL/SIL protein family that has been linked to microcephaly in humans. We propose that members of the SAS-5/Ana2/STIL family of proteins are key conserved components of the centriole duplication machinery.
Recent studies have identified a conserved “core” of proteins that are required for centriole duplication. A small number of additional proteins have recently been identified as potential duplication factors, but it is unclear whether any of these proteins are components of the core duplication machinery. In this study, we investigate the function of one of these proteins, Drosophila melanogaster Ana3. We show that Ana3 is present in centrioles and basal bodies, but its behavior is distinct from that of the core duplication proteins. Most importantly, we find that Ana3 is required for the structural integrity of both centrioles and basal bodies and for centriole cohesion, but it is not essential for centriole duplication. We show that Ana3 has a mammalian homologue, Rotatin, that also localizes to centrioles and basal bodies and appears to be essential for cilia function. Thus, Ana3 defines a conserved family of centriolar proteins and plays an important part in ensuring the structural integrity of centrioles and basal bodies.