National Center for
3RYH: Gmpcpp-Tubulin: Rb3 Stathmin-Like Domain Complex
J. Mol. Biol. (2011) 412 p.35-42
Tubulin alternates between a soluble curved structure and a microtubule straight conformation. GTP binding to alphabeta-tubulin is required for microtubule assembly, but whether this triggers conversion into a straighter structure is still debated. This is due, at least in part, to the lack of structural data for GTP-tubulin before assembly. Here, we report atomic-resolution crystal structures of soluble tubulin in the GDP and GTP nucleotide states in a complex with a stathmin-like domain. The structures differ locally in the neighborhood of the nucleotide. A loop movement in GTP-bound tubulin favors its recruitment to the ends of growing microtubules and facilitates its curved-to-straight transition, but this conversion has not proceeded yet. The data therefore argue for the conformational change toward the straight structure occurring as microtubule-specific contacts are established. They also suggest a model for the way the tubulin structure is modified in relation to microtubule assembly.