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J Vis Exp. 2014 Mar 15;(85). doi: 10.3791/51150.

Preparation of segmented microtubules to study motions driven by the disassembling microtubule ends.

Author information

1
Center for Theoretical Problems of Physicochemical Pharmacology, Russian Academy of Sciences; Federal Research Center of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology, Moscow, Russia.
2
Physiology Department, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
3
Physiology Department, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; gekate@mail.med.upenn.edu.

Abstract

Microtubule depolymerization can provide force to transport different protein complexes and protein-coated beads in vitro. The underlying mechanisms are thought to play a vital role in the microtubule-dependent chromosome motions during cell division, but the relevant proteins and their exact roles are ill-defined. Thus, there is a growing need to develop assays with which to study such motility in vitro using purified components and defined biochemical milieu. Microtubules, however, are inherently unstable polymers; their switching between growth and shortening is stochastic and difficult to control. The protocols we describe here take advantage of the segmented microtubules that are made with the photoablatable stabilizing caps. Depolymerization of such segmented microtubules can be triggered with high temporal and spatial resolution, thereby assisting studies of motility at the disassembling microtubule ends. This technique can be used to carry out a quantitative analysis of the number of molecules in the fluorescently-labeled protein complexes, which move processively with dynamic microtubule ends. To optimize a signal-to-noise ratio in this and other quantitative fluorescent assays, coverslips should be treated to reduce nonspecific absorption of soluble fluorescently-labeled proteins. Detailed protocols are provided to take into account the unevenness of fluorescent illumination, and determine the intensity of a single fluorophore using equidistant Gaussian fit. Finally, we describe the use of segmented microtubules to study microtubule-dependent motions of the protein-coated microbeads, providing insights into the ability of different motor and nonmotor proteins to couple microtubule depolymerization to processive cargo motion.

PMID:
24686554
PMCID:
PMC4100436
DOI:
10.3791/51150
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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