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Tubulin cofactors and Arl2 are cage-like chaperones that regulate the soluble αβ-tubulin pool for microtubule dynamics.

  • Author(s): Nithianantham, Stanley
  • Le, Sinh
  • Seto, Elbert
  • Jia, Weitao
  • Leary, Julie
  • Corbett, Kevin D
  • Moore, Jeffrey K
  • Al-Bassam, Jawdat
  • et al.
Abstract

Microtubule dynamics and polarity stem from the polymerization of αβ-tubulin heterodimers. Five conserved tubulin cofactors/chaperones and the Arl2 GTPase regulate α- and β-tubulin assembly into heterodimers and maintain the soluble tubulin pool in the cytoplasm, but their physical mechanisms are unknown. Here, we reconstitute a core tubulin chaperone consisting of tubulin cofactors TBCD, TBCE, and Arl2, and reveal a cage-like structure for regulating αβ-tubulin. Biochemical assays and electron microscopy structures of multiple intermediates show the sequential binding of αβ-tubulin dimer followed by tubulin cofactor TBCC onto this chaperone, forming a ternary complex in which Arl2 GTP hydrolysis is activated to alter αβ-tubulin conformation. A GTP-state locked Arl2 mutant inhibits ternary complex dissociation in vitro and causes severe defects in microtubule dynamics in vivo. Our studies suggest a revised paradigm for tubulin cofactors and Arl2 functions as a catalytic chaperone that regulates soluble αβ-tubulin assembly and maintenance to support microtubule dynamics.

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