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J Cell Biol. 2006 Dec 18;175(6):849-51.

Making more microtubules by severing: a common theme of noncentrosomal microtubule arrays?

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.


Two related enzymes, katanin and spastin, use the energy from ATP hydrolysis to sever microtubules. Two new studies (one in this issue; see McNally et al., p. 881) show that microtubule severing by katanin provides a means for increasing microtubule density in meiotic spindles. Interestingly, loss of spastin leads to a sparser microtubule array in axons and synaptic boutons. Together, these studies hint at a wider role for microtubule-severing enzymes in the formation and organization of noncentrosomal microtubule arrays by generating new seeds for microtubule growth.

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