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Scientists watch cell-shape process for first time
Date:10/10/2010

p>To explore these questions, the investigators introduced their probe into a mutant lacking the protein katanin (named for a Japanese word for sword), whose job it is to cut microtubules into pieces. The scientists thought that katanin might be responsible for separating new microtubules from their formation complexes. In fact, without the cutting protein, the daughter microtubules completely failed to detach from their birth sites, and tagged formation complexes remained at the base of the daughter microtubule. The only time they saw a formation complex leave in the mutants was when the microtubule completely depolymerizedthat is, the process whereby a large molecule decomposes into individual units. When this occurred, the tagged complex also disappeared. The results indicate that the formation complexes remain associated with mother microtubules until the daughter microtubule is removed either by katanin cutting or by complete depolymerization.

"As far as we are aware, this research is the first to witness the dynamics of individual gamma tubulin complex processes, which are fundamental to every plant and animal," remarked Ehrhardt. "We look at our plant system as a model for non-centrosomal array organization, which also occurs in many important differentiated animal cells. While we anticipate that some of the molecular players may be different, many of the principles may be similar. What we learn here could help us understand basic mechanisms underlying crop plant growth and development, and could have implications for understanding the process of acquiring cell shape and function of human cells."


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Contact: David Ehrhardt
ehrhardt@stanford.edu
650-325-1521
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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