Cilium biogenesis in Drosophila was the focus of Tomer Avidor-Reiss’ postdoctoral research in Dr. Charles Zuker’s laboratory at UCSD. Once he became an independent principle investigator in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, he used the ideas, tools, and technologies developed during his postdoctoral work to shift the direction of his research towards the related field of centrosome biogenesis. More recently, he moved to the University of Toledo and his lab has focused on centrosome and cilium biology in reproduction.
A surprising outcome of his research was the discovery of a second but atypical centriole structure in Drosophila sperm. It was once dogma that the sperm of Drosophila, like in other insects, humans, and some other mammals, has only one centriole. In contrast, Avidor-Reiss team discovered that sperm has two centriolar structures, and they showed that the second centriolar structure is atypical and missing the microtubules that are considered by many to be the hallmark of a centriole.
They named this second centriolar structure the PCL, Proximal Centriole-Like. The PCL is a centriolar structure because it consists of centriole-specific proteins, its formation is initiated using the same genetic pathway essential for initiation of centriole formation, and it functions in the zygote analogously to a centriole.
Collectively, this ongoing research strongly supports the hypothesis that the PCL and other atypical centrioles, alongside the centriole, are the structures that mediate centriole inheritance during reproduction. This work is considered by many to have transformative potential.