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Life Sci. 1992;50(5):327-34.

Microtubule functions.

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Centro de Biología Molecular (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.


Microtubules, with intermediate filaments and microfilaments, are the components of the cell skeleton which determinates the shape of a cell. Microtubules are involved in different functions including the assembly of mitotic spindle, in dividing cells, or axon extension, in neurons. In the first case, microtubules are highly dynamic, while in the second case microtubules are quite stable, suggesting that microtubule with different physical properties (stability) are involved in different functions. Thus, to understand the mechanisms of microtubule functions it is very important to understand microtubule dynamics. Historically, tubulin, the main component of microtubules, was first characterized as the major component of the mitotic spindle that binds to colchicine. Afterwards, it was found that tubulin is particularly more abundant in brain than in other tissues. Therefore, the roles of microtubules in mitosis, and in neurons, have been more extensively analyzed and, in this review, these roles will be discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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