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Biochemistry. 1990 Mar 20;29(11):2730-9.

Kinetic analysis of tubulin exchange at microtubule ends at low vinblastine concentrations.

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


We have investigated the effects of vinblastine at micromolar concentrations and below on the dynamics of tubulin exchange at the ends of microtubule-associated-protein-rich bovine brain microtubules. The predominant behavior of these microtubules at polymer-mass steady state under the conditions examined was tubulin flux, i.e., net addition of tubulin at one end of each microtubule, operationally defined as the assembly or A end, and balanced net loss at the opposite (disassembly or D) end. No dynamic instability behavior could be detected by video-enhanced dark-field microscopy. Addition of vinblastine to the microtubules at polymer-mass steady state resulted in an initial concentration-dependent depolymerization predominantly at the A ends, until a new steady-state plateau at an elevated critical concentration was established. Microtubules ultimately attained the same stable polymer-mass plateau when vinblastine was added prior to initiation of polymerization as when the drug was added to already polymerized microtubules. Vinblastine inhibited tubulin exchange at the ends of the microtubules at polymer-mass steady state, as determined by using microtubules differentially radiolabeled at their opposite ends. Inhibition of tubulin exchange occurred at concentrations of vinblastine that had very little effect on polymer mass. Both the initial burst of incorporation that occurs in control microtubule suspensions following a pulse of labeled GTP and the relatively slower linear incorporation of label that follows the initial burst were inhibited in a concentration-dependent manner by vinblastine. Both processes were inhibited to the same extent at all vinblastine concentrations examined. If the initial burst of label incorporation represents a low degree of dynamic instability (very short excursions of growth and shortening of the microtubules at one or both ends), then vinblastine inhibits both dynamic instability and flux to similar extents. The ability of vinblastine to inhibit tubulin exchange at microtubule ends in the micromolar concentration range appeared to be mediated by the reversible binding of vinblastine to tubulin binding sites exposed at the polymer ends. Determination by dilution analysis of the effects of vinblastine on the apparent dissociation rate constants for tubulin loss at opposite microtubule ends indicated that a principal effect of vinblastine is to decrease the dissociation rate constant at A ends (i.e., it produces a kinetic cap at A ends), whereas it has no effect on the D-end dissociation rate constant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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