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Mol Cell Biol. Oct 1990; 10(10): 5286–5294.
PMCID: PMC361216

Regulation of tubulin levels and microtubule assembly in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: consequences of altered tubulin gene copy number.

Abstract

Microtubule organization in the cytoplasm is in part a function of the number and length of the assembled polymers. The intracellular concentration of tubulin could specify those parameters. Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains constructed with moderately decreased or increased copy numbers of tubulin genes provide an opportunity to study the cellular response to a steady-state change in tubulin concentration. We found no evidence of a mechanism for adjusting tubulin concentrations upward from a deficit, nor did we find a need for such a mechanism: cells with no more than 50% of the wild-type tubulin level were normal with respect to a series of microtubule-dependent properties. Strains with increased copies of both alpha- and beta-tubulin genes, or of alpha-tubulin genes alone, apparently did down regulate their tubulin levels. As a result, they contained greater than normal concentrations of tubulin but much less than predicted from the increase in gene number. Some of this down regulation occurred at the level of protein. These strains were also phenotypically normal. Cells could contain excess alpha-tubulin protein without detectable consequences, but perturbations resulting in excess beta-tubulin genes may have affected microtubule-dependent functions. All of the observed regulation of levels of tubulin can be explained as a response to toxicity associated with excess tubulin proteins, especially if beta-tubulin is much more toxic than alpha-tubulin.

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Selected References

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