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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2012 Aug;24(4):517-25. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Jun 14.

Formation and functions of asymmetric microtubule organization in polarized cells.

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Multicellular Organization Laboratory, National Institute of Genetics, 1111 Yata, Mishima 411-8540, Japan.


Although microtubules are known to be essential for chromosome segregation during cell division, they also play important roles in the regulation and function of cell polarity. Cell polarization is fundamental to appropriate tissue patterning and the regulation of cellular diversity during animal development. In polarized cells, microtubules are often organized asymmetrically along the polarity axis. Recent studies show that such asymmetry in microtubule organization is important to connect a cell's polarization with its polarized functions. In some cases, asymmetrically organized microtubule arrays themselves induce cell polarity. Here we present an overview of the mechanisms and functions of asymmetric microtubule organization and discuss the possible role of microtubule asymmetry in the symmetry-breaking that leads to cell polarization.

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