Extracting Modified Microtubules from Mammalian Cells to Study Microtubule-Protein Complexes by Cryo-Electron Microscopy.


Microtubules are an important part of the cytoskeleton and are involved in intracellular organization, cell division, and migration. Depending on the posttranslational modifications, microtubules can form complexes with various interacting proteins. These microtubule-protein complexes are often implicated in human diseases. Understanding the structure of such complexes is useful for elucidating their mechanisms of action and can be studied by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). To obtain such complexes for structural studies, it is important to extract microtubules containing or lacking specific posttranslational modifications. Here, we describe a simplified protocol to extract endogenous tubulin from genetically modified mammalian cells, involving microtubule polymerization, followed by sedimentation using ultracentrifugation. The extracted tubulin can then be used to prepare cryo-electron microscope grids with microtubules that are bound to a purified microtubule-binding protein of interest. As an example, we demonstrate the extraction of fully tyrosinated microtubules from cell lines engineered to lack the three known tubulin-detyrosinating enzymes. These microtubules are then used to make a protein complex with enzymatically inactive microtubule-associated tubulin detyrosinase on cryo-EM grids.

More about this publication

Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE
  • Issue nr. 193
  • Publication date 03-03-2023

This site uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.