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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1995;32(4):273-88.

Polarity and nucleation of microtubules in polarized epithelial cells.

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Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


Microtubules oriented in the apicobasal axis of columnar epithelial cells are arranged with a uniform polarity with minus ends toward the apical surface, suggesting that these cytoskeletal filaments might serve as a substrate for polarized movement of membrane vesicles within the cell. It is not known whether hepatocytes, a cuboidal epithelium in which transcellular transport is a requisite step in normal apical membrane biogenesis, contain microtubules arranged with a similar polarity. In the present study, we explore the question of microtubule polarity and possible mechanisms for nucleation in the epithelial cell lines WIF-B (hepatocyte), Caco-2 (intestine), and Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK). Caco-2 microtubules in the apicobasal axis had uniform polarity with minus ends nearest the apical surface. After cold and nocodazole-induced depolymerization, microtubule regrowth initiated in the apical region in all three cell types. The apex of WIF-B and Caco-2 cells contained two pools of gamma-tubulin: one associated with centrosomes and the other delocalized under the apical membrane. Non-centrosomal gamma-tubulin was present in complexes that sedimented between 10S and 29S; both forms could bind microtubules. The presence of both centrosomal and noncentrosomal gamma-tubulin in apical cytoplasm suggest multiple mechanisms by which microtubule nucleation might occur in epithelial cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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