Neuronal activities depend heavily on microtubules, which shape neuronal processes and transport myriad molecules within them. Although constantly remodeled through growth and shrinkage events, neuronal microtubules must be sufficiently stable to maintain nervous system wiring. This stability is somehow maintained by various microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), but little is known about how these proteins work. Here, we show that MAP6, previously known to confer cold stability to microtubules, promotes growth. More unexpectedly, MAP6 localizes in the lumen of microtubules, induces the microtubules to coil into a left-handed helix, and forms apertures in the lattice, likely to relieve mechanical stress. These features have not been seen in microtubules before and could play roles in maintaining axonal width or providing flexibility in the face of compressive forces during development.
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