Structural and functional differences between porcine brain and budding yeast microtubules

Stuart C. Howes, Elisabeth A. Geyer, Benjamin LaFrance, Rui Zhang, Elizabeth H. Kellogg, Stefan Westermann, Luke M. Rice, Eva Nogales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The cytoskeleton of eukaryotic cells relies on microtubules to perform many essential functions. We have previously shown that, in spite of the overall conservation in sequence and structure of tubulin subunits across species, there are differences between mammalian and budding yeast microtubules with likely functional consequences for the cell. Here we expand our structural and function comparison of yeast and porcine microtubules to show different distribution of protofilament number in microtubules assembled in vitro from these two species. The different geometry at lateral contacts between protofilaments is likely due to a more polar interface in yeast. We also find that yeast tubulin forms longer and less curved oligomers in solution, suggesting stronger tubulin:tubulin interactions along the protofilament. Finally, we observed species-specific plus-end tracking activity for EB proteins: yeast Bim1 tracked yeast but not mammalian MTs, and human EB1 tracked mammalian but not yeast MTs. These findings further demonstrate that subtle sequence differences in tubulin sequence can have significant structural and functional consequences in microtubule structure and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Bim1
  • EB
  • Tubulin
  • budding yeast
  • cryo-EM
  • microtubules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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