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Mol Biol Cell. Aug 1996; 7(8): 1167–1180.
PMCID: PMC275970

Functionally distinct isoforms of dynactin are expressed in human neurons.

Abstract

P150Glued is the largest subunit of dynactin, which binds to cytoplasmic dynein and activates vesicle transport along microtubules. We have isolated human cDNAs encoding p150Glued as well as a 135-kDa isoform; these isoforms are expressed in human brain by alternative mRNA splicing of the human DCTN1 gene. The p135 isoform lacks the consensus microtubule-binding motif shared by members of the p150Glued/Glued/CLIP-170/BIK1 family of microtubule-associated proteins and, therefore, is predicted not to bind directly to microtubules. We used transient transfection assays and in vitro microtubule-binding assays to demonstrate that the p150 isoform binds to microtubules, but the p135 isoform does not. However, both isoforms bind to cytoplasmic dynein, and both partition similarly into cytosolic and membrane cellular fractions. Sequential immunoprecipitations with an isoform-specific antibody for p150 followed by a pan-isoform antibody revealed that, in brain, these polypeptides assemble to form distinct complexes, each of which sediments at approximately 20 S. On the basis of these observations, we hypothesize that there is a conserved neuronal function for a distinct form of the dynactin complex that cannot bind directly to cellular microtubules.

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