April 18, 2011

It’s no secret, but I’ll say it anyway…I love microtubules. Really, several qualities of microtubules are ones we all inspire to have ourselves…dynamic, elegant, organized, photogenic, and essential. The image above is from a recent paper discussing how different tubulin isotypes may play bigger roles in microtubule behavior than once believed.

Microtubules are hollow tubes of linear protofilaments that are composed of α- and β-tubulin heterodimers. Most organisms have multiple isotypes of α- and β-tubulin, some of which are expressed in the same cells. It was not clear if some of these isotypes could be used interchangeably in the assembly and function of microtubules, but a recent paper describes how one specific β-tubulin isotype affects microtubule behavior. The altered dynamics of microtubules when this isotype, called β5-tubulin, is either overexpressed or reduced results in cell division defects. In seen in the images above, mammalian cells with too much β5-tubulin (left) had many short microtubules (arrowheads) and indicators of cell division defects (compare fragmented nucleus to neighboring cell’s nucleus). Cells with reduced levels of β5-tubulin (right) had normal looking microtubules despite defects in cell division.

ResearchBlogging.orgBhattacharya, R., Yang, H., & Cabral, F. (2011). Class V -tubulin alters dynamic instability and stimulates microtubule detachment from centrosomes Molecular Biology of the Cell, 22 (7), 1025-1034 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E10-10-0822

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