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Tubulin subunits exist in an activated conformational state generated and maintained by protein cofactors.

Tian G., Lewis S.A., Feierbach B., Stearns T., Rommelaere H., Ampe C., Cowan N.J.

The production of native alpha/beta tubulin heterodimer in vitro depends on the action of cytosolic chaperonin and several protein cofactors. We previously showed that four such cofactors (termed A, C, D, and E) together with native tubulin act on beta-tubulin folding intermediates generated by the chaperonin to produce polymerizable tubulin heterodimers. However, this set of cofactors generates native heterodimers only very inefficiently from alpha-tubulin folding intermediates produced by the same chaperonin. Here we describe the isolation, characterization, and genetic analysis of a novel tubulin folding cofactor (cofactor B) that greatly enhances the efficiency of alpha-tubulin folding in vitro. This enabled an integrated study of alpha- and beta-tubulin folding: we find that the pathways leading to the formation of native alpha- and beta-tubulin converge in that the folding of the alpha subunit requires the participation of cofactor complexes containing the beta subunit and vice versa. We also show that sequestration of native alpha-or beta-tubulins by complex formation with cofactors results in the destabilization and decay of the remaining free subunit. These data demonstrate that tubulin folding cofactors function by placing and/or maintaining alpha-and beta-tubulin polypeptides in an activated conformational state required for the formation of native alpha/beta heterodimers, and imply that each subunit provides information necessary for the proper folding of the other.

J. Cell Biol. 138:821-832(1997) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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