Thomas Surrey – Centre de Regulació Genòmica (CRG)

Microtubules are tube-like protein polymers that are essential for correct intracellular organization and for cell division. The number of microtubules needs to be precisely controlled and this is done by a protein complex that is thought to serve as a template for microtubule growth. We have developed a fluorescence microscopy-based assay allowing us to observe new microtubule formation from single templates. We found that the isolated templating complex is surprisingly inefficient in starting microtubule growth. Cryo-electron microsopy allowed then to obtain the structure of the complex at high resolution which revealed a mismatch between template and microtubule. This suggest that a shape change of the template is required to activate it and that in living cells template-binding proteins may induce this chance controlling the formation of new microtubules.

Consolati T, Locke J, Roostalu J, Chen ZA, Gannon J, Asthana J, Lim WM, Martino F, Cvetkovic MA, Rappsilber J, Costa A, Surrey T. 2020, ‘Microtubule nucleation properties of single human ?TuRCs explained by their cryo-EM structure’. Dev Cell 53, 603-617.