The translationally controlled protein P23 was discovered by the early induction of its rate of synthesis after mitogenic stimulation of mouse fibroblasts. P23 is expressed in almost all mammalian tissues and it is highly conserved between animals, plants and yeast. Based on its amino acid sequence, P23 cannot be attributed to any known protein family, and its cellular function remains to be elucidated. Here, we present evidence that P23 has properties of a tubulin binding protein that associates with microtubules in a cell cycle-dependent manner. (1) P23 is a cytoplasmic protein that occurs in complexes of 100–150 kDa, and part of P23 can be immunoprecipitated from HeLa cell extracts with anti-tubulin antibodies. (2) In immunolocalisation experiments we find P23 associated with microtubules during G1, S, G2 and early M phase of the cell cycle. At metaphase, P23 is also bound to the mitotic spindle, and it is detached from the spindle during metaphase-anaphase transition. (3) A GST-P23 fusion protein interacts with alpha- and beta-tubulin, and recombinant P23 binds to taxol-stabilised microtubules in vitro. The tubulin binding domain of P23 was identified by mutational analysis; it shows similarity to part of the tubulin binding domain of the microtubule-associated protein MAP-1B. (4) Overexpression of P23 results in cell growth retardation and in alterations of cell morphology. Moreover, elevation of P23 levels leads to microtubule rearrangements and to an increase in microtubule mass and stability.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists