The C-termini of tubulin and the specific geometry of tubulin substrates influence the depolymerization activity of MCAK

Cell Cycle. 2008 Sep 1;7(17):2727-37. doi: 10.4161/cc.7.17.6590. Epub 2008 Sep 12.


MCAK is a Kinesin-13 that depolymerizes microtubules (MTs) and regulates MT dynamics. We used subtilisin-treated MTs (MTs lacking the C-termini of alpha- and beta-tubulin) and alternative tubulin substrates to study which structural and geometrical features of the MT are critical for MCAK activity. We found that removal of the C-termini significantly decreased the efficiency of MCAK-induced depolymerization, which was not due to a reduction of end-specific binding. We also found that depolymerization of SMTs led to an increase in the stabilization of curved oligomeric tubulin products. Using alternative tubulin substrates with different geometries, we found that MCAK depolymerized parallel and anti-parallel tubulin sheets. However, MCAK did not depolymerize tubulin rings regardless of the presence or absence of the tubulin C-termini. We propose that localization of MCAK to the ends of MTs is independent of tubulin C-termini, that MCAK stabilizes a curved conformation at the end of the MT, and that efficient release of this complex is dependent on the presence of the C-termini of tubulin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Kinesin / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity / drug effects
  • Subtilisin / pharmacology
  • Tubulin / chemistry*
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Subtilisin
  • Kinesin