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Cell Cycle. 2018;17(3):278-287. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2017.1415680. Epub 2018 Jan 30.

Structural and functional differences between porcine brain and budding yeast microtubules.

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a Biophysics Graduate Group , UC Berkeley , CA 94720 , USA and Department of Molecular Cell Biology , Leiden University Medical Center , 2333 ZC Leiden , Netherlands.
b UT Southwestern Medical Center , Departments of Biophysics and Biochemistry , Dallas , TX 75390 , USA.
c Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Program , UC Berkeley , CA 94720 , USA.
d Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging , Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , CA 94720 , USA.
e Howard Hughes Medical Institute , UC Berkeley , CA 94720-3220 , USA.
f Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics , Washington University School of Medicine , St. Louis , MO 63110 , USA.
g Research Institute of Molecular Pathology , Dr. Bohr-Gasse 7, 1030 Vienna , Austria.
h Molecular and Cell Biology Department and QB3 Institute , UC Berkeley , CA 94720 , USA.


The cytoskeleton of eukaryotic cells relies on microtubules to perform many essential functions. We have previously shown that, in spite of the overall conservation in sequence and structure of tubulin subunits across species, there are differences between mammalian and budding yeast microtubules with likely functional consequences for the cell. Here we expand our structural and function comparison of yeast and porcine microtubules to show different distribution of protofilament number in microtubules assembled in vitro from these two species. The different geometry at lateral contacts between protofilaments is likely due to a more polar interface in yeast. We also find that yeast tubulin forms longer and less curved oligomers in solution, suggesting stronger tubulin:tubulin interactions along the protofilament. Finally, we observed species-specific plus-end tracking activity for EB proteins: yeast Bim1 tracked yeast but not mammalian MTs, and human EB1 tracked mammalian but not yeast MTs. These findings further demonstrate that subtle sequence differences in tubulin sequence can have significant structural and functional consequences in microtubule structure and behavior.


Bim1; EB; Tubulin; budding yeast; cryo-EM; microtubules

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