What are Microtubules?


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Microtubules (Campbell Biology)

All eukaryotic cells have microtubules, hollow rods constructed from globular proteins called tubulins. Each tubulin protein is a dimer, a molecule made up of two components. A tubulin dimer consists of two slightly different polypeptides, α-tubulin and β-tubulin. Microtubules grow in length by adding tubulin dimers; they can also be disassembled and their tubulins used to build microtubules elsewhere in the cell. Because of the orientation of tubulin dimers, the two ends of a microtubule are slightly different. One end can accumulate or release tubulin dimers at a much higher rate than the other, thus growing and shrinking significantly during cellular activities. (This is called the “plus end,” not because it can only add tubulin proteins but because it’s the end where both “on” and “off” rates are much higher.)

Microtubules shape and support the cell and also serve as tracks along which organelles equipped with motor proteins can move. Microtubules guide vesicles from the ER to the Golgi apparatus and from the Golgi to the plasma membrane. Microtubules are also involved in the separation of chromosomes during cell division.


Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition. https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/series/Campbell-Biology-Series/2244849.html


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