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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1997;38(3):278-86.

In vitro assembled plant microtubules exhibit a high state of dynamic instability.

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Department of Biology and Intercollege Program in Plant Physiology, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


Higher plants possess four distinct microtubule arrays. One of these, the cortical array, is involved in orienting the deposition of cellulose microfibrils. This plant interphase array is also notable because it contains exceptionally dynamic microtubules. Although the primary sequence of plant and animal tubulin is similar (79-87% amino acid identity overall) there are some regions of divergence. Thus, one possible explanation for the high state of polymer assembly and turnover that is observed in plant interphase arrays is that the tubulins have evolved differently and possess a higher intrinsic dynamic character than their animal counterparts. This hypothesis was tested using highly purified plant tubulin assembled in vitro. Using high-resolution DIC video-enhanced microscopy, we quantified the four characteristic parameters of dynamic instability of plant microtubules and compared them with animal microtubules. The elongation velocities between plant and animal microtubules are similar, but plant microtubules undergo catastrophes more frequently, do not exhibit any rescues, and have an average shortening velocity of 195 microm/min (compared with 21 microm/min for animal microtubules). These data support the hypothesis that plant tubulin forms microtubules that are intrinsically more dynamic than those of animals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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