D N Drechsel

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Saxony, Germany

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Publications (9)78.38 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Microtubules are dynamically unstable polymers that interconvert stochastically between polymerization and depolymerization. Compared with microtubules assembled from purified tubulin, microtubules in a physiological environment polymerize faster and transit more frequently between polymerization and depolymerization. These dynamic properties are essential for the functions of the microtubule cytoskeleton during diverse cellular processes. Here, we have reconstituted the essential features of physiological microtubule dynamics by mixing three purified components: tubulin; a microtubule-stabilizing protein, XMAP215; and a microtubule-destabilizing kinesin, XKCM1. This represents an essential first step in the reconstitution of complex microtubule dynamics-dependent processes, such as chromosome segregation, from purified components.
    Science 12/2001; 294(5545):1340-3. · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During cytokinesis in animal cells, an equatorial actomyosin-based contractile ring divides the cell into two daughter cells. The position of the contractile ring is specified by a signal that emanates from the mitotic spindle. This signal has not been identified and it is not understood how the components of the contractile ring assemble. It is also unclear how the ring constricts or how new plasma membrane inserts specifically behind the leading edge of the constricting furrow. The Rho family of small GTPases regulate polarized changes in cell growth and cell shape by affecting the formation of actin structures beneath the plasma membrane, but their role in cytokinesis is unclear. We have studied the function of two Rho family members during the early cell divisions of Xenopus embryos by injecting modified forms of Rho and Cdc42. Both inhibition and constitutive activation of either GTPase blocked cytokinesis. Furrow specification occurred normally, but ingression of the furrow was inhibited. Newly inserted cleavage membranes appeared aberrantly on the outer surface of the embryo. Microinjected Rho localized to the cortex and regulated the levels of cortical F-actin. These results show that Rho regulates the assembly of actin filaments in the cortex during cytokinesis, that local activation of Rho is important for proper constriction of the contractile furrow, and that Cdc42 plays a role in furrow ingression. Moreover, our observations reveal that furrow ingression and membrane insertion are not strictly linked. Neither Rho nor Cdc42 appear to be required for establishment of the cell-division plane.
    Current Biology 02/1997; 7(1):12-23. · 9.92 Impact Factor
  • David N. Drechsel, Marc W. Kirschner
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    ABSTRACT: Microtubules polymerized from pure tubulin show the unusual property of dynamic instability, in which both growing and shrinking polymers coexist at steady state. Shortly after its addition to a microtubule end, a tubulin subunit hydrolyzes its bound GTP. Studies with non-hydrolyzable analogs have shown that GTP hydrolysis is not required for microtubule assembly, but is essential for generating a dynamic polymer, in which the subunits at the growing tip have bound GTP and those in the bulk of the polymer have bound GDP. It has been suggested that loss of the 'GTP cap' through dissociation or hydrolysis exposes the unstable GDP core, leading to rapid depolymerization. However, evidence for a stabilizing cap has been very difficult to obtain. We developed an assay to determine the minimum GTP cap necessary to stabilize a microtubule from shrinking. Assembly of a small number of subunits containing a slowly hydrolyzed GTP analog (GMPCPP) onto the end of dynamic microtubules stabilized the polymer to dilution. By labeling the subunits with rhodamine, we measured the size of the cap and found that as few as 40 subunits were sufficient to stabilize a microtubule. On the basis of statistical arguments, in which the proportion of stabilized microtubules is compared to the probability that when 40 GMPCPP-tubulin subunits have polymerized onto a microtubule end, all protofilaments have added at least one GMPCPP-tubulin subunit, our measurements of cap size support a model in which a single GTP subunit at the end of each of the 13 protofilaments of a microtubule is sufficient for stabilization. Depolymerization of a microtubule may be initiated by an exposed tubulin-GDP subunit at even a single position. These results have implications for the structure of microtubules and their means of regulation.
    Current Biology 01/1995; 4(12):1053-61. · 9.92 Impact Factor
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    D N Drechsel, A A Hyman, M H Cobb, M W Kirschner
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    ABSTRACT: Microtubule-associated proteins (MAP), such as tau, modulate the extent and rate of microtubule assembly and play an essential role in morphogenetic processes, such as axonal growth. We have examined the mechanism by which tau affects microtubule polymerization by examining the kinetics of microtubule assembly and disassembly through direct observation of microtubules using dark-field microscopy. Tau increases the rate of polymerization, decreases the rate of transit into the shrinking phase (catastrophe), and inhibits the rate of depolymerization. Tau strongly suppresses the catastrophe rate, and its ability to do so is independent of its ability to increase the elongation rate. Thus, tau generates a partially stable but still dynamic state in microtubules. This state is perturbed by phosphorylation by MAP2 kinase, which affects all three activities by lowering the affinity of tau for the microtubule lattice.
    Molecular Biology of the Cell 11/1992; 3(10):1141-54. · 4.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of GTP hydrolysis in microtubule dynamics has been reinvestigated using an analogue of GTP, guanylyl-(alpha, beta)-methylene-diphosphonate (GMPCPP). This analogue binds to the tubulin exchangeable nucleotide binding site (E-site) with an affinity four to eightfold lower than GTP and promotes the polymerization of normal microtubules. The polymerization rate of microtubules with GMPCPP-tubulin is very similar to that of GTP-tubulin. However, in contrast to microtubules polymerized with GTP, GMPCPP-microtubules do not depolymerize rapidly after isothermal dilution. The depolymerization rate of GMPCPP-microtubules is 0.1 s-1 compared with 500 s-1 for GDP-microtubules. GMPCPP also completely suppresses dynamic instability. Contrary to previous work, we find that the beta--gamma bond of GMPCPP is hydrolyzed extremely slowly after incorporation into the microtubule lattice, with a rate constant of 4 x 10(-7) s-1. Because GMPCPP hydrolysis is negligible over the course of a polymerization experiment, it can be used to test the role of hydrolysis in microtubule dynamics. Our results provide strong new evidence for the idea that GTP hydrolysis by tubulin is not required for normal polymerization but is essential for depolymerization and thus for dynamic instability. Because GMPCPP strongly promotes spontaneous nucleation of microtubules, we propose that GTP hydrolysis by tubulin also plays the important biological role of inhibiting spontaneous microtubule nucleation.
    Molecular Biology of the Cell 11/1992; 3(10):1155-67. · 4.55 Impact Factor
  • Methods in Enzymology 02/1991; 196:478-85. · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The microtubule array in neuronal cells undergoes extensive growth, dynamics and rearrangements during neurite outgrowth. While little is known about how these changes are regulated, microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) including tau protein are likely to perform an important role. Tau is one of the MAPs in mammalian brain. When isolated it is usually a mixture of several isoforms containing between 341 and 441 residues that arise from alternative splicing. Tau can be phosphorylated by several protein kinases. Phosphorylation at certain sites results in major structural and functional changes, as seen by changes in electrophoretic mobility, interaction with microtubules, molecular length and elasticity. Here we show that the sites of phosphorylation by four kinases (PKA, PKC, CK and CaMK) all lie in the C-terminal microtubule-binding half of tau, but only the phosphorylation by CaM kinase shows the pronounced shift in electrophoretic mobility characteristic for tau from Alzheimer neurofibrillary tangles. By using a combination of limited proteolysis, protein sequencing and protein engineering we show that a single phosphorylation site is responsible for this shift, located at Ser 405 in the C-terminal tail of the protein outside the region of internal repeats. Phosphorylation at this site not only reduces the electrophoretic mobility of tau, it also makes the protein long and stiff, as shown earlier. The site is likely to be phosphorylated in tau from Alzheimer neurofibrillary tangles.
    The EMBO Journal 12/1990; 9(11):3539-44. · 10.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tau proteins consist of a family of proteins, heterogeneous in size, which associate with microtubules in vivo and are induced during neurite outgrowth. In humans, tau is one of the major components of the pathognomonic neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease brain. Screening of a cDNA library prepared from bovine brain led to the isolation of several cDNA clones encoding tau proteins with different N termini and differing by insertions or deletions, suggesting differential splicing of the tau transcripts. One of the N-terminal domains and the repeated C-terminal domain of the encoded tau proteins are recognized by polyclonal antibodies to bovine tau. The bovine tau proteins are highly homologous to murine and human tau, especially within the repeated C-terminal domain. Compared with murine and human tau, bovine tau contains the insertion of three longer segments, one of which is an additional characteristic repeat. Portions of tau proteins generated by in vitro translation were used to show that these repeats represent tubulin-binding domains, two of which are sufficient to bind to microtubules assembled from purified tubulin in the presence of taxol.
    Molecular and Cellular Biology 05/1989; 9(4):1381-8. · 5.04 Impact Factor
  • Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders - ALZ DIS ASSOC DISORDER. 01/1988; 2(3).

Publication Stats

2k Citations
78.38 Total Impact Points


  • 2001
    • Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 1997
    • University College London
      • MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1992–1995
    • University of California, San Francisco
      • Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
      San Francisco, California, United States