Structural differences between yeast and mammalian microtubules revealed by cryo-EM

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

47 Scopus citations


Microtubules are polymers of αβ-tubulin heterodimers essential for all eukaryotes. Despite sequence conservation, there are significant structural differences between microtubules assembled in vitro from mammalian or budding yeast tubulin. Yeast MTs were not observed to undergo compaction at the interdimer interface as seen for mammalian microtubules upon GTP hydrolysis. Lack of compaction might reflect slower GTP hydrolysis or a different degree of allosteric coupling in the lattice. The microtubule plus end-tracking protein Bim1 binds yeast microtubules both between αβ-tubulin heterodimers, as seen for other organisms, and within tubulin dimers, but binds mammalian tubulin only at interdimer contacts. At the concentrations used in cryo-electron microscopy, Bim1 causes the compaction of yeast microtubules and induces their rapid disassembly. Our studies demonstrate structural differences between yeast and mammalian microtubules that likely underlie their differing polymerization dynamics. These differences may reflect adaptations to the demands of different cell size or range of physiological growth temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2669-2677
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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