Biochemical reconstitutions reveal principles of human γ-TuRC assembly and function

J Cell Biol. 2021 Mar 1;220(3):e202009146. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202009146.


The formation of cellular microtubule networks is regulated by the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC). This ∼2.3 MD assembly of >31 proteins includes γ-tubulin and GCP2-6, as well as MZT1 and an actin-like protein in a "lumenal bridge" (LB). The challenge of reconstituting the γ-TuRC has limited dissections of its assembly and function. Here, we report a biochemical reconstitution of the human γ-TuRC (γ-TuRC-GFP) as a ∼35 S complex that nucleates microtubules in vitro. In addition, we generate a subcomplex, γ-TuRCΔLB-GFP, which lacks MZT1 and actin. We show that γ-TuRCΔLB-GFP nucleates microtubules in a guanine nucleotide-dependent manner and with similar efficiency as the holocomplex. Electron microscopy reveals that γ-TuRC-GFP resembles the native γ-TuRC architecture, while γ-TuRCΔLB-GFP adopts a partial cone shape presenting only 8-10 γ-tubulin subunits and lacks a well-ordered lumenal bridge. Our results show that the γ-TuRC can be reconstituted using a limited set of proteins and suggest that the LB facilitates the self-assembly of regulatory interfaces around a microtubule-nucleating "core" in the holocomplex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Tubulin / chemistry
  • Tubulin / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / ultrastructure


  • Actins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins