Radioimmunoassay for tubulin: a quantitative comparison of the tubulin content of different established tissue culture cells and tissues

Cell. 1978 Aug;14(4):795-804. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(78)90335-5.


A quantitative estimate of the cellular tubulin concentration can be obtained by the use of a radioimmunoassay based upon the competition between tubulin in cell extracts and a known amount of radioactively labeled homogeneous tubulin during binding to a limited amount of anti-tubulin antibodies. This assay shows that a variety of widely used tissue culture cells (mouse L cells, mouse 3T3 cells, chick embryo fibroblasts) have a tubulin content which corresponds to approximately 2.5--3.3% of their total protein. Transformation of mouse 3T3 cells by the DNA virus SV40, and of chick embryo cells by the RNA Rous sarcoma virus, does not change the intracellular tubulin concentration. Transformed cells of brain origin, such as some glia tumor cell lines and some neuroblastoma cell lines, have a much lower tubulin content than does normal brain tissue. The intracellular concentration of tubulin in mouse 3T3 cells is discussed in relation to the number of microtubules detected during interphase by immunofluorescence microscopy. These results are also discussed in view of a mechanism of microtubule elongation in vivo driven by self-assembly.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Liver / analysis*
  • Microtubules
  • Neurons / analysis*
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Tubulin / analysis*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Tubulin