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The where, when and how of microtubule nucleation – one ring to rule them all
Neus Teixidó-Travesa, Joan Roig, Jens Lüders


The function of microtubules depends on their arrangement into highly ordered arrays. Spatio-temporal control over the formation of new microtubules and regulation of their properties are central to the organization of these arrays. The nucleation of new microtubules requires γ-tubulin, an essential protein that assembles into multi-subunit complexes and is found in all eukaryotic organisms. However, the way in which γ-tubulin complexes are regulated and how this affects nucleation and, potentially, microtubule behavior, is poorly understood. γ-tubulin has been found in complexes of various sizes but several lines of evidence suggest that only large, ring-shaped complexes function as efficient microtubule nucleators. Human γ-tubulin ring complexes (γTuRCs) are composed of γ-tubulin and the γ-tubulin complex components (GCPs) 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, which are members of a conserved protein family. Recent work has identified additional unrelated γTuRC subunits, as well as a large number of more transient γTuRC interactors. In this Commentary, we discuss the regulation of γTuRC-dependent microtubule nucleation as a key mechanism of microtubule organization. Specifically, we focus on the regulatory roles of the γTuRC subunits and interactors and present an overview of other mechanisms that regulate γTuRC-dependent microtubule nucleation and organization.


  • Funding

    J.R. and J.L. are supported by Plan Nacional of I+D+I (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain) [grant numbers BFU2011-25855 (to J.R.), BFU2009-08522 (to J.L.)]; and IRB Barcelona intramural funds (to J.L.). J.R. acknowledges the continuous support of Carme Caelles (Cell Signaling Research Group, IRB Barcelona). J.L. acknowledges support from a Marie Curie International Re-integration Grant [grant number FP7-PEOPLE-2007-4-3-IRG, project no. 224835]; and from the Ramón y Cajal Program (MICINN, Spain).

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