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Biochemistry. 1985 Sep 10;24(19):5254-62.

Taxol stabilization of microtubules in vitro: dynamics of tubulin addition and loss at opposite microtubule ends.


We have investigated the effects of taxol on steady-state tubulin flux and on the apparent molecular rate constants for tubulin addition and loss at the two ends of bovine brain microtubules in vitro. These microtubules, which consist of a mixture of 70% tubulin and 30% microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), undergo a net addition of tubulin at one end of each microtubule (A end) and a precisely balanced net loss of tubulin at the opposite end (D end) at steady state in vitro. They do not exhibit to a detectable extent the "dynamic instability" behavior described recently for MAP-free microtubules, which would be evident as an increase in the mean microtubule length and a decrease in the number of microtubules in the suspensions [Mitchison, T., & Kirschner, M. (1984) Nature (London) 312, 237-242]. We used a double-label procedure in which microtubules were labeled with tritium and carbon-14 at A ends and carbon-14 at D ends to distinguish the two ends, combined with a microtubule collection procedure that permitted rapid and accurate analysis of retention of the two labels in the microtubules. We found that taxol slowed the flux of tubulin in a concentration-dependent manner, with 50% inhibition occurring between 5 and 7 microM drug. The effects of taxol on the apparent molecular rate constants for tubulin addition and loss at the two microtubule ends were determined by dilution analysis at an intermediate taxol concentration. The results indicated that taxol decreased the magnitudes of the dissociation rate constants at the two ends to similar extents, while exerting little effect on the association rate constants.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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