Estimating the microtubule GTP cap size in vivo.
ABSTRACT Microtubules (MTs) polymerize via net addition of GTP-tubulin subunits to the MT plus end, which subsequently hydrolyze to GDP-tubulin in the MT lattice. Relatively stable GTP-tubulin subunits create a "GTP cap" at the growing MT plus end that suppresses catastrophe. To understand MT assembly regulation, we need to understand GTP hydrolysis reaction kinetics and the GTP cap size. In vitro, the GTP cap has been estimated to be as small as one layer [1-3] (13 subunits) or as large as 100-200 subunits . GTP cap size estimates in vivo have not yet been reported. Using EB1-EGFP as a marker for GTP-tubulin in epithelial cells, we find on average (1) 270 EB1 dimers bound to growing MT plus ends, and (2) a GTP cap size of ∼750 tubulin subunits. Thus, in vivo, the GTP cap is far larger than previous estimates in vitro, and ∼60-fold larger than a single layer cap. We also find that the tail of a large GTP cap promotes MT rescue and suppresses shortening. We speculate that a large GTP cap provides a locally concentrated scaffold for tip-tracking proteins and confers persistence to assembly in the face of physical barriers such as the cell cortex.
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ABSTRACT: The dynamic properties of microtubules depend on complex nanoscale structural rearrangements in their end regions. Members of the EB1 and XMAP215 protein families interact autonomously with microtubule ends. EB1 recruits several other proteins to growing microtubule ends and has seemingly antagonistic effects on microtubule dynamics: it induces catastrophes, and it increases growth velocity, as does the polymerase XMAP215. RESULTS: Using a combination of in vitro reconstitution, time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, and subpixel-precision image analysis and convolved model fitting, we have studied the effects of EB1 on conformational transitions in growing microtubule ends and on the time course of catastrophes. EB1 density distributions at growing microtubule ends reveal two consecutive conformational transitions in the microtubule end region, which have growth-velocity-independent kinetics. EB1 binds to the microtubule after the first and before the second conformational transition has occurred, positioning it several tens of nanometers behind XMAP215, which binds to the extreme microtubule end. EB1 binding accelerates conformational maturation in the microtubule, most likely by promoting lateral protofilament interactions and by accelerating reactions of the guanosine triphosphate (GTP) hydrolysis cycle. The microtubule maturation time is directly linked to the duration of a growth pause just before microtubule depolymerization, indicating an important role of the maturation time for the control of dynamic instability. CONCLUSIONS: These activities establish EB1 as a microtubule maturation factor and provide a mechanistic explanation for its effects on microtubule growth and catastrophe frequency, which cause microtubules to be more dynamic.Current Biology 01/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.042 · 9.92 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Microtubules are cellular components that are required for a variety of essential processes such as cell motility, mitosis, and intracellular transport. This is possible because of the inherent dynamic properties of microtubules. Many of these properties are tightly regulated by a number of microtubule plus-end-binding proteins or +TIPs. These proteins recognize the distal end of microtubules and are thus in the right context to control microtubule dynamics. In this review, we address how microtubule dynamics are regulated by different +TIP families, focusing on how functionally diverse +TIPs spatially and temporally regulate microtubule dynamics during animal cell division.International review of cell and molecular biology 01/2014; 309C:59-140. DOI:10.1016/B978-0-12-800255-1.00002-8 · 4.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Microtubules (MTs) are cytoplasmic protein polymers that are essential for fundamental cellular processes including the maintenance of cell shape, organelle transport and formation of the mitotic spindle. Microtubule dynamic instability is critical for these processes, but it remains poorly understood, in part because the relationship between the structure of the MT tip and the growth/depolymerization transitions is enigmatic. In previous work, we used computational models of dynamic instability to provide evidence that cracks (laterally unbonded regions) between protofilaments play a key role in the regulation of dynamic instability. Here we use computational models to investigate the connection between cracks and dynamic instability in more detail. Our work indicates that while cracks contribute to dynamic instability in a fundamental way, it is not the depth of the cracks per se that governs MT dynamic instability. Instead, what matters more is whether the cracks terminate in GTP-rich or GDP-rich regions of the MT. Based on these observations, we suggest that a functional "GTP cap" (i.e., one capable of promoting MT growth) is one where the cracks terminate in pairs of GTP-bound subunits, and that the likelihood of catastrophe rises significantly with the fraction of crack-terminating subunits that contain GDP. In addition to helping clarify the mechanism of dynamic instability, this idea could also explain how MT stabilizers work: proteins that introduce lateral cross-links between protofilaments would produce islands of GDP-bound tubulin that mimic GTP-rich regions in having strong lateral bonds, thus reducing crack propagation, suppressing catastrophe and promoting rescue.Soft Matter 02/2014; 10(12):2069-80. DOI:10.1039/c3sm52892h · 4.15 Impact Factor