Structure, Assembly, and Disassembly of Tubulin Single Rings

Asaf Shemesh, Avi Ginsburg, Yael Levi-Kalisman, Israel Ringel, Uri Raviv*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Single and double tubulin rings were studied under a range of conditions and during microtubule (MT) assembly and disassembly. Here, tubulin was purified from porcine brain and used without any further modifications or additives that promote ring assembly. The structure of single GDP-rich tubulin rings was determined by cryo-transmission electron microscopy and synchrotron solution X-ray scattering. The scattering curves were fitted to atomic models, using our state-of-the-art analysis software, D+. We found that there is a critical concentration for ring formation, which increased with GTP concentration with temperature. MT assembly or disassembly, induced by changes in temperature, was analyzed by time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering. During MT assembly, the fraction of rings and unassembled dimers simultaneously decreased. During MT disassembly, the mass fraction of dimers increased. The increase in the concentration of rings was delayed until the fraction of dimers was sufficiently high. We verified that pure dimers, eluted via size-exclusion chromatography, could also form rings. Interestingly, X-ray radiation triggered tubulin ring disassembly. The concentration of disassembled rings versus exposure time followed a first-order kinetics. The disassembly rate constant and initial concentration were determined. X-ray radiation-triggered disassembly was used to determine the concentration of rings. We confirmed that following a temperature jump, the mass fraction of rings decreased and then stabilized at a constant value during the first stage of the MT assembly kinetics. This study sheds light on the most basic assembly and disassembly conditions for in vitro single GDP-rich tubulin rings and their relation to MT kinetics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6153-6165
Number of pages13
Issue number43
StatePublished - 30 Oct 2018

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© 2018 American Chemical Society.


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