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Biochemistry. 1992 Jan 28;31(3):738-46.

Mechanism of inhibition of microtubule polymerization by colchicine: inhibitory potencies of unliganded colchicine and tubulin-colchicine complexes.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara 93106.


The tubulin-colchicine binding reaction appears to involve a number of intermediate steps beginning with rapid formation of a transient preequilibrium complex that is followed by one or more slow steps in which conformational changes in tubulin and colchicine lead to formation of a poorly reversible final-state complex. In the present study, we investigated the relative ability of unliganded colchicine and preformed final-stage tubulin-colchicine complex to incorporate at microtubule ends and to inhibit addition of tubulin at the net assembly ends of bovine brain microtubules in vitro. Addition of 0.1 microM final-stage tubulin-colchicine complex to suspensions of microtubules at polymer-mass steady-state resulted in rapid incorporation of one to two molecules of tubulin-colchicine complex per microtubule net assembly end concomitant with approximately 50-60% inhibition of tubulin addition. Incorporation of colchicine-tubulin complex continued slowly with time, without significant additional change in the rate of tubulin addition. In contrast, addition of unliganded colchicine to microtubule suspensions resulted in incorporation of small numbers of colchicine molecules at microtubule ends and inhibition of tubulin addition only after periods of time that varied from several minutes to approximately 20 min depending upon the concentration of colchicine. Inhibition of tubulin addition beginning with unliganded colchicine increased slowly with time, concomitant with increases in the concentration of final-state tubulin-colchicine complex and the amount of colchicine bound per microtubule end. The results indicate that inhibition of tubulin incorporation at microtubule ends is caused by colchicine-liganded tubulin in the form of a final-state complex.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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