In vitro assembled plant microtubules exhibit a high state of dynamic instability

Richard C. Moore, Min Zhang, Lynne Cassimeris, Richard J. Cyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Higher plants possess four distinct microtubule arrays. One of these, the cortical array, is involved in orienting the deposition of cellulose microfibrils. This plant interphase array is also notable because it contains exceptionally dynamic microtubules. Although the primary sequence of plant and animal tubulin is similar (79-87% amino acid identity overall) there are some regions of divergence. Thus, one possible explanation for the high state of polymer assembly and turnover that is observed in plant interphase arrays is that the tubulins have evolved differently and possess a higher intrinsic dynamic character than their animal counterparts. This hypothesis was tested using highly purified plant tubulin assembled in vitro. Using high- resolution DIC video-enhanced microscopy, we quantified the four characteristic parameters of dynamic instability of plant microtubules and compared them with animal microtubules. The elongation velocities between plant and animal microtubules are similar, but plant microtubules undergo catastrophes more frequently, do not exhibit any rescues, and have an average shortening velocity of 195 μm/min (compared with 21 μm/min for animal microtubules). These data support the hypothesis that plant tubulin forms microtubules that are intrinsically more dynamic than those of animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-286
Number of pages9
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology


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