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Biophys J. 2012 Feb 22;102(4):802-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.01.008.


Bundling of microtubules (MTs) is critical for the formation of complex MT arrays. In land plants, the interphase cortical MTs form bundles specifically following shallow-angle encounters between them. To investigate how cells select particular MT contact angles for bundling, we used an in vitro reconstitution approach consisting of dynamic MTs and the MT-cross-linking protein MAP65-1. We found that MAP65-1 binds to MTs as monomers and inherently targets antiparallel MTs for bundling. Dwell-time analysis showed that the affinity of MAP65-1 for antiparallel overlapping MTs is about three times higher than its affinity for single MTs and parallel overlapping MTs. We also found that purified MAP65-1 exclusively selects shallow-angle MT encounters for bundling, indicating that this activity is an intrinsic property of MAP65-1. Reconstitution experiments with mutant MAP65-1 proteins with different numbers of spectrin repeats within the N-terminal rod domain showed that the length of the rod domain is a major determinant of the range of MT bundling angles. The length of the rod domain also determined the distance between MTs within a bundle. Together, our data show that the rod domain of MAP65-1 acts both as a spacer and as a structural element that specifies the MT encounter angles that are conducive for bundling.


Final author version of article published in Biophys J.2012 Feb 22;102(4):802-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.01.008. Final version freely available on PubMed Central: