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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2011 Jul 3;18(8):915-9. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2083.

Crystal structure of γ-tubulin complex protein GCP4 provides insight into microtubule nucleation.

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  • 1Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse, France.


Microtubule nucleation in all eukaryotes involves γ-tubulin small complexes (γTuSCs) that comprise two molecules of γ-tubulin bound to γ-tubulin complex proteins (GCPs) GCP2 and GCP3. In many eukaryotes, multiple γTuSCs associate with GCP4, GCP5 and GCP6 into large γ-tubulin ring complexes (γTuRCs). Recent cryo-EM studies indicate that a scaffold similar to γTuRCs is formed by lateral association of γTuSCs, with the C-terminal regions of GCP2 and GCP3 binding γ-tubulin molecules. However, the exact role of GCPs in microtubule nucleation remains unknown. Here we report the crystal structure of human GCP4 and show that its C-terminal domain binds directly to γ-tubulin. The human GCP4 structure is the prototype for all GCPs, as it can be precisely positioned within the γTuSC envelope, revealing the nature of protein-protein interactions and conformational changes regulating nucleation activity.

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