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Curr Biol. 2014 Nov 3;24(21):2548-55. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.013. Epub 2014 Oct 16.

GCP-WD mediates γ-TuRC recruitment and the geometry of microtubule nucleation in interphase arrays of Arabidopsis.

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Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
School of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61710, USA.
Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Ikoma 630-0192, Japan.
Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Electronic address:


Many differentiated animal cells, and all higher plant cells, build interphase microtubule arrays of specific architectures without benefit of a central organizer, such as a centrosome, to control the location and geometry of microtubule nucleation. These acentrosomal arrays support essential cell functions such as morphogenesis, but the mechanisms by which the new microtubules are positioned and oriented are poorly understood. In higher plants, nucleation of microtubules arises from distributed γ-tubulin ring complexes (γ-TuRCs) at the cell cortex that are associated primarily with existing microtubules and from which new microtubules are nucleated in a geometrically bimodal fashion, either in parallel to the mother microtubule or as a branching event at a mean angle of approximately 40° to the mother microtubule. By imaging the dynamics of individual nucleation events in Arabidopsis, we found that a conserved peripheral protein of the γ-TuRC, GCP-WD/NEDD1, associated with motile γ-TuRCs and localized to nucleation events. Knockdown of this essential protein resulted in reduction of γ-TuRC recruitment to cortical microtubules and total nucleation frequency, showing that GCP-WD controls γ-TuRC positioning and function in these interphase arrays. Further, we discovered an unexpected role for GCP-WD in determining the geometry of microtubule-dependent microtubule nucleation, where it acts to increase the likelihood of branching over parallel nucleation. Cells with normally complex patterns of cortical array organization constructed simpler arrays with cell-wide ordering, suggesting that control of nucleation frequency, positioning, and geometry by GCP-WD allows plant cells to build alternative cortical array architectures.

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