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Nat Cell Biol. 1999 Nov;1(7):399-403.

Speckle microscopic evaluation of microtubule transport in growing nerve processes.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics M/C 901, University of Illinois at Chicago, 835 South Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Assembly of microtubules is fundamental to neuronal morphogenesis. Microtubules typically form crosslinked bundles in nerve processes, precluding resolution of single microtubules at the light microscopic level. Therefore, previous studies of microtubule transport in neurites have had to rely on indirect approaches. Here we show that individual microtubules can be visualized directly in the axonal shafts of Xenopus embryo neurons by using digital fluorescence microscopy. We find that, although the array of axonal microtubules is dynamic, microtubules are stationary relative to the substrate. These results argue against a model in which newly synthesized tubulin is transported down the axon in the form of microtubules.

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