Molecule of the Month: Microtubules
The largest filaments of the cytoskeleton provide tracks for transport throughout the cell
Exploring the Structure
Tubulin Drugs (PDB entries 1jff and 1z2b)
Given their central role in cell division, microtubules are the target of many important toxins and drugs. For instance, some anticancer drugs act this way: they are designed to block the malignantly rapid growth of the cancer cells by blocking the normal dynamics of microtubules. Three molecules that block microtubule action, all produced by plants, are shown here: colchicine and vinblastine block the assembly of microtubules, and the anticancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol) promotes the assembly, binding so tightly that disassembly is virtually impossible (PDB entries 1z2b and 1jff ). To look at these structures in more detail, click on the image for an interactive JSmol.
Topics for Further Discussion
- The use of stathmin has allowed the determination of the structures of many different inhibitors bound to tubulin. You can use the Ligand Explorer to explore the ways these inhibitors are bound.
Related PDB-101 Resources
- Browse Molecular Infrastructure
- Browse Cancer
- Browse Drug Action
- Browse Integrative/Hybrid Methods
- 3j2u: A. B. Asenjo, C. Chatterjee, D. Tan, V. Depaoli, W. J. Rice, R. Diaz-Avalos, M. Silvestry & H. Sosa (2013) Structural model for tubulin recognition and deformation by kinesin-13 microtubule depolymerases. Cell Reports 3, 759-768.
- L. A. Amos (2011) What tubulin drugs tell us about microtubule structure and dynamics. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology 22, 916-926.
- R. H. Wade (2009) On and around microtubules: an overview. Molecular Biotechnology 43, 177-191.
- 1z2b: B. Gigante, C. Wang, R. B. Ravelli, F. Roussi, M. O. Steinmetz, P. A. Curmi, A. Sobel & M. Knossow (2005) Structural basis for the regulation of tubulin by vinblastine. Nature 435, 519-522.
- 1jff: J. Lowe, H. Li, K. H. Downing & E. Nogales (2001) Refined structure of alpha beta-tubulin at 3.5 A resolution. Journal of Molecular Biology 313, 1045-1057.
- 1ffx: B. Gigant, P. A. Curmi, C. Martin-Barbey, E. Charbaut, S. Lachkar, L. Lebeau, S. Siavoshian, A. Sobel & M. Knossow (2000) The 4 A structure of a tubulin:stathmin-like domain complex. Cell 102, 809-816.
July 2014, David Goodselldoi:10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2014_7