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EMBO J. 1985 Sep;4(9):2397-402.

Tubulin domains responsible for assembly of dimers and protofilaments.


The protein domains responsible for the dimerization and polymerization of tubulin have been determined using chemical cross-linking and limited proteolysis. The intra-dimer bond is formed by the N-terminal domain of alpha-tubulin and the C-terminal domain of beta-tubulin. Conversely, the inter-dimer bond along protofilaments is formed by the N-terminal domain of beta-tubulin (carrying the exchangeable GTP) and the C-terminal domain of alpha-tubulin. The domains of proteolytically cleaved tubulin remain tightly associated in solution. Apart from the monomer, tubulin shows three levels of assembly: the dimer, oligomer and polymer. Several oligomeric species can be visualized by electron microscopy of rotary shadowed phosphocellulose-tubulin, h.p.l.c. and non-denaturing gel electrophoresis. Tubulin's capacity to form the higher level aggregates is not destroyed by enzymatic nicking.

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