Free intermingling of mammalian beta-tubulin isotypes among functionally distinct microtubules

Cell. 1987 May 22;49(4):539-48. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(87)90456-9.


Mammalian cells express a spectrum of tubulin isotypes whose relationship to the diversity of microtubule function is unknown. To examine whether different isotypes are segregated into functionally distinct microtubules, we generated immune sera capable of discriminating among the various naturally occurring beta-tubulin isotypes. Cloned fusion proteins encoding each isotype were used first to tolerogenize animals against shared epitopes, and then as immunogens to elicit a specific response. In experiments using these sera, we show that there is neither complete nor partial segregation of beta-tubulin isotypes: both interphase cytoskeletal and mitotic spindle microtubules are mixed copolymers of all expressed beta-tubulin isotypes. Indeed, a highly divergent isotype normally expressed only in certain hematopoietic cells is also indiscriminately assembled into all microtubules both in their normal context and when transfected into HeLa cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / cytology
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Erythroblasts / cytology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HeLa Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Immune Sera
  • Megakaryocytes / cytology
  • Mice
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Tubulin / analysis*


  • Immune Sera
  • Tubulin