The augmin connection in the geometry of microtubule networks

Curr Biol. 2015 Mar 30;25(7):R294-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.006.


Microtubules mediate important cellular processes by forming highly ordered arrays. Organization of these networks is achieved by nucleating and anchoring microtubules at centrosomes and other structures collectively known as microtubule-organizing centers (MTOCs). However, the diverse microtubule configurations found in different cell types may not be generated and maintained by MTOCs alone. Work over the last few years has revealed a mechanism that has the capacity to generate cell-type-specific microtubule arrays independently of a specific organizer: nucleation of microtubules from the lateral surface of pre-existing microtubules. This type of nucleation requires cooperation between two different multi-subunit protein complexes, augmin and the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC). Here we review recent molecular insight into microtubule-dependent nucleation and discuss the possibility that the augmin-γTuRC module, initially described in mitosis, may broadly contribute to microtubule organization also in non-mitotic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microtubule-Organizing Center / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Tubulin