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Essays Biochem. 2018 Oct 4. pii: EBC20180035. doi: 10.1042/EBC20180035. [Epub ahead of print]

Measuring microtubule dynamics.

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Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, U.K.
MRC Doctoral Training Partnership, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, U.K.
Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, U.K.
Division of Biomedical Sciences, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, CV4 7AL, U.K.


Microtubules are key players in cellular self-organization, acting as structural scaffolds, cellular highways, force generators and signalling platforms. Microtubules are polar filaments that undergo dynamic instability, i.e. transition between phases of growth and shrinkage. This allows microtubules to explore the inner space of the cell, generate pushing and pulling forces and remodel themselves into arrays with different geometry and function such as the mitotic spindle. To do this, eukaryotic cells employ an arsenal of regulatory proteins to control microtubule dynamics spatially and temporally. Plants and microorganisms have developed secondary metabolites that perturb microtubule dynamics, many of which are in active use as cancer chemotherapeutics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Here, we summarize the methods used to visualize microtubules and to measure the parameters of dynamic instability to study both microtubule regulatory proteins and the action of small molecules interfering with microtubule assembly and/or disassembly.


+TIPs; EB3; dynamic instability; kymograph; microtubules; tubulin


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