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You are watching: Cell structures made of individual microtubule

Cooper GM. The Cell: A Molecular Approach. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2000.


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Microtubules, the 3rd primary component of the cytoskeleton, are rigid hollow rods approximately 25 nm in diameter. Like actin filaments, microtubules are dynamic frameworks that undergo continuous assembly and also disassembly within the cell. They function both to identify cell shape and in a range of cell motions, including some develops of cell locomotion, the intracellular transport of organelles, and the separation of chromosomes throughout mitosis.


Structure, Assembly, and Dynamic Instcapacity of Microtubules

In comparison to intermediate filaments, which are written of a selection of various fibrous proteins, microtubules are written of a solitary form of globular protein, referred to as tubulin. Tubulin is a dimer consisting of two very closely connected 55-kd polypeptides, α-tubulin and also β-tubulin. Like actin, both α- and β-tubulin are encoded by tiny families of connected genes. In addition, a third form of tubulin (γ-tubulin) is especially localized to the centrosome, where it plays an important role in initiating microtubule assembly (debated shortly).

Tubulin dimers polymerize to create microtubules, which generally consist of 13 direct protofilaments assembled approximately a hollow core (Figure 11.37). The protofilaments, which are created of head-to-tail arrays of tubulin dimers, are arranged in parallel. Consequently, microtubules (prefer actin filaments) are polar frameworks with 2 distinctive ends: a fast-prospering plus end and also a slow-prospering minus end. This polarity is a critical consideration in determining the direction of motion alengthy microtubules, just as the polarity of actin filaments defines the direction of myosin movement.


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Figure 11.37

Structure of microtubules. Dimers of α- and also β-tubulin polymerize to form microtubules, which are composed of 13 protofilaments assembled roughly a hollow core.


Tubulin dimers deserve to depolymerize and polymerize, and also microtubules can undergo fast cycles of assembly and also disassembly. Both α- and β-tubulin bind GTP, which functions analogously to the ATP bound to actin to manage polymerization. In particular, the GTP bound to β-tubulin (though not that bound to α-tubulin) is hydrolyzed to GDP in the time of or shortly after polymerization. This GTP hydrolysis weakens the binding affinity of tubulin for surrounding molecules, thereby favoring depolymerization and resulting in the dynamic habits of microtubules. Like actin filaments (view Figure 11.4), microtubules undergo treadmilling, a dynamic habits in which tubulin molecules bound to GDP are continually shed from the minus end and also reput by the addition of tubulin molecules bound to GTP to the plus finish of the very same microtubule. In microtubules, GTP hydrolysis additionally results in the behavior well-known as dynamic instability, in which individual microtubules alternative between cycles of development and shrinkage (Figure 11.38). Whether a microtubule grows or shrinks is determined by the rate of tubulin enhancement family member to the rate of GTP hydrolysis. As lengthy as brand-new GTP-bound tubulin molecules are added more promptly than GTP is hydrolyzed, the microtubule retains a GTP cap at its plus finish and microtubule development proceeds. However, if the price of polymerization slows, the GTP bound to tubulin at the plus finish of the microtubule will certainly be hydrolyzed to GDP. If this occurs, the GDP-bound tubulin will certainly dissociate, causing quick depolymerization and shrinkage of the microtubule.


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Figure 11.38

Dynamic instability of microtubules. Dynamic instcapability outcomes from the hydrolysis of GTP bound to β-tubulin throughout or shortly after polymerization, which reduces its binding affinity for surrounding molecules. Growth of microtubules proceeds (even more...)


Dynamic instcapacity, defined by Tim Mitchichild and also Marc Kirschner in 1984, results in the continual and also rapid turnover of a lot of microtubules, which have actually half-resides of just a number of minutes within the cell. As disputed later, this rapid turnover of microtubules is particularly critical for the remodeling of the cytoskeleton that occurs throughout mitosis. Because of the central duty of microtubules in mitosis, drugs that affect microtubule assembly are advantageous not just as experimental tools in cell biology yet likewise in the therapy of cancer. Colchicine and also colcemid are examples of commonly offered experimental drugs that bind tubulin and also inhilittle bit microtubule polymerization, which in turn blocks mitosis. Two related drugs (vincristine and vinblastine) are provided in cancer chemotreatment because they selectively inhilittle quickly dividing cells. Another helpful drug, taxol, stabilizes microtubules fairly than inhibiting their assembly. Such stabilization likewise blocks cell division, and taxol is supplied as an anticancer agent and also an speculative tool.


The Centrosome and Microtubule Organization

The microtubules in most cells extfinish outward from a microtubule-organizing center, in which the minus ends of microtubules are anchored. In animal cells, the significant microtubule-arranging facility is the centrosome, which is situated nearby to the nucleus close to the center of interphase (nondividing) cells (Figure 11.39). Throughout mitosis, microtubules similarly extend external from replicated centrosomes to form the mitotic spindle, which is responsible for the separation and also circulation of chromosomes to daughter cells. The centrosome hence plays a crucial duty in determining the intracellular company of microtubules, although most details of its function remain a secret.


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Figure 11.39

Intracellular organization of microtubules. The minus ends of microtubules are anchored in the centrosome. In interphase cells, the centrosome is located near the nucleus and microtubules extend external to the cell perimeter. Throughout mitosis, replicated (even more...)


The centrosome serves as the initiation website for the assembly of microtubules, which grow exterior from the centrosome towards the periphery of the cell. This deserve to be clearly visualized in cells that have actually been treated with colcemid to disassemble their microtubules (Figure 11.40). When the drug is rerelocated, the cells recover and new microtubules have the right to be viewed prospering external from the centrosome. Importantly, the initiation of microtubule development at the centrosome creates the polarity of microtubules within the cell. In particular, microtubules prosper by the addition of tubulin to their plus ends, which extfinish external from the centrosome toward the cell periphery.


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Figure 11.40

Growth of microtubules from the centrosome. Microtubules in computer mouse fibroblasts are visualized by immunofluorescence microscopy using an antibody against tubulin. (A) The circulation of microtubules in a normal interphase cell. (B) This cell was treated (more...)


The centrosomes of most pet cells contain a pair of centrioles, oriented perpendicular to each various other, surrounded by amorphous pericentriolar product (Figure 11.41). The centrioles are cylindrical structures consisting of nine triplets of microtubules, comparable to the basal bodies of cilia and also flagella (discussed later in the chapter). Although centrioles are more than likely the precursors of basal bodies, they show up to be dispensible for the feature of the centrosome. Centrioles execute not show up to be compelled for the assembly or organization of microtubules, and they are not uncovered in plant cells, many unicellular eukaryotes, and also some animal cells (such as mouse eggs). The microtubules that emanate from the centrosome terminate in the pericentriolar product, not the centrioles, and also it is the pericentriolar material that initiates microtubule assembly.


Figure 11.41

Structure of centrosomes. (A) Electron micrograph of a centrosome showing microtubules radiating from the pericentriolar material that surrounds a pair of centrioles. (B) Transverse section of a centriole illustrating its nine triplets of microtubules. (more...)


The key protein in the centrosome that nucleates assembly of microtubules is γ-tubulin, a minor species of tubulin first figured out in fungi. Complexes of γ-tubulin form ring structures that contain 10 to 13 γ-tubulin molecules and also have actually diameters similar to those of microtubules. These γ-tubulin rings serve as nucleation sites for the assembly of microtubules and also may remajor bound to their minus ends.


Recompany of Microtubules in the time of Mitosis

As listed previously, microtubules totally reorganize throughout mitosis, providing a dramatic instance of the prestige of their dynamic instcapacity. The microtubule array current in interphase cells disassembles and the complimentary tubulin subunits are reassembbrought about create the mitotic spindle, which is responsible for the separation of daughter chromosomes (Figure 11.42). This restructuring of the microtubule cytoskeleton is directed by duplication of the centrosome to form two separate microtubule-arranging centers at opposite poles of the mitotic spindle.


Figure 11.42

Electron micrograph of the mitotic spindle. The spindle microtubules are attached to condensed chromosomes at metaphase. (From C. L. Rieder and S. S. Bowser, 1985. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 33: 165/Biological Photograph Service.)


The centrioles and also various other components of the centrosome are duplicated in interphase cells, yet they remajor together on one side of the nucleus until the start of mitosis (Figure 11.43). The 2 centrosomes then separate and move to opposite sides of the nucleus, creating the two poles of the mitotic spindle. As the cell enters mitosis, the dynamics of microtubule assembly and also disassembly also readjust dramatically. First, the price of microtubule disassembly rises about tenfold, causing all at once depolymerization and also shrinkage of microtubules. At the same time, the number of microtubules emanating from the centrosome boosts by five- to tenfold. In combination, these changes result in disassembly of the interphase microtubules and also the outexpansion of big numbers of short microtubules from the centrosomes.


Figure 11.43

Formation of the mitotic spindle. The centrioles and also centrosomes duplicate in the time of interphase. During prophase of mitosis, the replicated centrosomes sepaprice and also relocate to oppowebsite sides of the nucleus. The nuclear envelope then disassembles, and also microtubules (even more...)


As initially proposed by Marc Kirschner and also Tim Mitchison in 1986, development of the mitotic spindle involves the selective stabilization of some of the microtubules radiating from the centrosomes. These microtubules are of three forms, two of which comprise the mitotic spindle. Kinetochore microtubules affix to the condensed chromosomes of mitotic cells at their centromeres, which are associated through certain proteins to create the kinetochore (watch Figure 4.16). Attachment to the kinetochore stabilizes these microtubules, which, as discussed listed below, play a crucial function in separation of the mitotic chromosomes. The second type of microtubules found in the mitotic spindle (polar microtubules) are not attached to chromosomes. Instead, the polar microtubules emanating from the 2 centrosomes are stabilized by overlapping via each other in the center of the cell. Astral microtubules extfinish external from the centrosomes to the cell perimeter and also have actually easily exposed plus ends. As discussed later, both the polar and astral microtubules likewise add to chromosome motion by pushing the spindle poles apart.

As mitosis proceeds, the condensed chromosomes first align on the metaphase plate and then sepaprice, through the two chromatids of each chromosome being pulresulted in oppowebsite poles of the spindle. Chromosome motion is mediated by motor proteins connected through the spindle microtubules, as will be debated shortly. In the final phase of mitosis, nuclear envelopes re-develop, the chromosomes decondense, and cytokinesis takes area. Each daughter cell then consists of one centrosome, which nucleates the formation of a new netoccupational of interphase microtubules.


Stabilization of Microtubules and Cell Polarity

Since of their inherent dynamic instcapability, the majority of microtubules are typically disassembled within the cell. This dynamic actions can, yet, be modified by the interactions of microtubules with various other proteins. Some cellular proteins act to disassemble microtubules, either by severing microtubules or by raising the rate of tubulin depolymerization from microtubule ends. Other proteins (referred to as microtubule-associated proteins or MAPs) bind to microtubules and increase their stcapacity. Such interactions allow the cell to stabilize microtubules in specific places and provide an essential mechanism for determining cell shape and also polarity.

A big variety of MAPs have been figured out, and they differ relying on the type of cell. The best-defined are MAP-1, MAP-2, and also tau, isolated from neuronal cells, and MAP-4, which is existing in all non-neuronal vertebrate cell types. The tau protein has actually been extensively studied because it is the major component of the characteristic lesions found in the brains of Alzheimer patients. The task of MAPs is regulated by phosphorylation, permitting the cell to regulate microtubule stability.

A excellent example of the duty of steady microtubules in determining cell polarity is gave by nerve cells, which consist of two distinct forms of procedures (axons and dendrites) extending from a cell body (Figure 11.44). Both axons and also dendrites are supported by stable microtubules, in addition to the neurofilaments questioned in the preceding area of this chapter. However before, the microtubules in axons and also dendrites are organized in different ways and also linked via distinctive MAPs. In axons, the microtubules are all oriented via their plus ends away from the cell body, comparable to the basic orientation of microtubules in various other cell forms. The minus ends of a lot of of the microtubules in axons, yet, are not anchored in the centrosome; rather, both the plus and also minus ends of these microtubules terminate in the cytoplasm of the axon. In dendrites, the microtubules are oriented in both directions; some plus ends point toward the cell body and some allude towards the cell perimeter. These distinct microtubule arrangements are paralleled by differences in MAPs: Axons contain tau proteins, yet no MAP-2, whereas dendrites contain MAP-2, yet no tau proteins, and also it shows up that these differences in MAP-2 and also tau distribution are responsible for the distinct organization of steady microtubules in axons and dendrites.

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Figure 11.44

Organization of microtubules in nerve cells. Two distinctive types of processes extend from the cell body of nerve cells (neurons). Dendrites are brief procedures that obtain stimuli from various other nerve cells. The single long axon then carries impulses from (even more...)


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