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Nat Cell Biol. 2000 Jun;2(6):365-70.

Structure of the gamma-tubulin ring complex: a template for microtubule nucleation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, 513 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


The gamma-tubulin ring complex (gammaTuRC) is a protein complex of relative molecular mass approximately 2.2 x 10(6) that nucleates microtubules at the centrosome. Here we use electron-microscopic tomography and metal shadowing to examine the structure of isolated Drosophila gammaTuRCs and the ends of microtubules nucleated by gammaTuRCs and by centrosomes. We show that the gammaTuRC is a lockwasher-like structure made up of repeating subunits, topped asymmetrically with a cap. A similar capped ring is also visible at one end of microtubules grown from isolated gammaTuRCs and from centrosomes. Antibodies against gamma-tubulin label microtubule ends, but not walls, in centrosomes. These data are consistent with a template-mediated mechanism for microtubule nucleation by the gammaTuRC.

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