Project C ? Structural Studies of Microtubule Dynamics and Interactions in Mitosis Eva Nogales PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Microtubules (MTs) are cytoskeletal polymers of ??-tubulin that play essential roles in all eukaryotic cells. MTs form the mitotic spindle, a dynamic suprastructure that separates duplicated chromosomes equally between daughter cells during cell division. Central to this function is the property of dynamic instability by which MTs switch between growing and shrinking phases powered by GTP hydrolysis. Anticancer drugs that bind to tubulin stop cell division by interfering with MT dynamics. On the other hand, many MT cellular partners modulate dynamic instability or utilize it to carry out specific functions. Among the first are +TIPs, proteins that track MT growing ends and affect their dynamic behavior. Among the second are kinetochore complexes ?protein assemblies that connect chromosomes to spindle MTs? that are able to harness the energy of MT depolymerization to move chromosome during cell division. We are interested in deciphering the molecular mechanisms by which MTs undergo dynamic instability, how this property is regulated by cellular factors and antimitoti agents, and how MT dynamics are used by kinetochore components for chromosome movement. Towards these goals we are using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to provide unique structural insight into physiologically relevant structures of MTs in different nucleotide and drug states, and visualize the interactions between MTs and a +TIP protein (EB3), and between MTs and large kinetochore complexes. For the biochemically simpler studies we aim for atomic resolution detail concerning changes in tubulin structure that drive MT disassembly or stabilization by EB3 or drugs. Such studies rely on state- of-the-art cryo-EM equipment and on our novel data processing strategy to take advantage of the pseudo- helical symmetry of MTs. These studies will provide an unprecedented pool of mechanistic information concerning MT dynamic instability, its obliteration by important anticancer agents, and one major cellular strategy for its regulation. Our structures will constitute unique material for computational studies aiming at modeling physical properties of MTs or at uncovering new potential sites for drug design to control MT behavior/cell proliferation, and ultimately fight disease. Our ambitious MT-kinetochore interaction studies also rely on state of the art equipment and will involve an innovative bootstrapping structural approach where molecular complexity and experimental difficulty are build up one step at a time, and where the interpretation of each EM structure builds on the previous step in a robust manner. Our overreaching goal is the structural characterization of a complete kinetochore and its regulated interaction with MTs. These studies will shed mechanistic light into mitosis and contribute to the improvement or development of anticancer agents that interfere with the normal or diseased mitotic process.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Program Projects (P01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
United States
Zip Code
Downing, Kenneth H; Glaeser, Robert M (2018) Estimating the effect of finite depth of field in single-particle cryo-EM. Ultramicroscopy 184:94-99
Nogales, Eva (2018) Cryo-EM. Curr Biol 28:R1127-R1128
Sazzed, Salim; Song, Junha; Kovacs, Julio A et al. (2018) Tracing Actin Filament Bundles in Three-Dimensional Electron Tomography Density Maps of Hair Cell Stereocilia. Molecules 23:
Kamennaya, Nina A; Zemla, Marcin; Mahoney, Laura et al. (2018) High pCO2-induced exopolysaccharide-rich ballasted aggregates of planktonic cyanobacteria could explain Paleoproterozoic carbon burial. Nat Commun 9:2116
Howes, Stuart C; Geyer, Elisabeth A; LaFrance, Benjamin et al. (2018) Structural and functional differences between porcine brain and budding yeast microtubules. Cell Cycle 17:278-287
Glaeser, Robert M (2018) PROTEINS, INTERFACES, AND CRYO-EM GRIDS. Curr Opin Colloid Interface Sci 34:1-8
Kellogg, Elizabeth H; Hejab, Nisreen M A; Poepsel, Simon et al. (2018) Near-atomic model of microtubule-tau interactions. Science 360:1242-1246
Zhang, Rui; LaFrance, Benjamin; Nogales, Eva (2018) Separating the effects of nucleotide and EB binding on microtubule structure. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:E6191-E6200
Nogales, Eva (2018) Cytoskeleton in high resolution. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 19:142
Han, Bong-Gyoon; Watson, Zoe; Cate, Jamie H D et al. (2017) Monolayer-crystal streptavidin support films provide an internal standard of cryo-EM image quality. J Struct Biol 200:307-313

Showing the most recent 10 out of 136 publications