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Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 33:38-51 (1996)
-TubuIin Redistribut ion in TaxoI-Treated
Mitotic Cells Probed by
Monoclonal Antibodies
Martina Novakova, Eduarda Draberova, Wolfgang Schurmann, Gerhard Czihak,
Vladimir Viklicky, and Pavel Draber
Institute of Molecular Genetics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic,
Czech Republic (M.N., E.D., V.V., P.0 , ) ; and Institute of Developmental Biology
and Genetics, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria (W.S., G.C.)
Monoclonal antibodies were prepared against conserved synthetic peptide from
the C-terminus of the y-tubulin and their specificity was confirmed by immunoblotting, competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and immunofluorescence. The antibodies decorated interphase centrosomes as well as halfspindles and midbodies in mitotic cells of various origin. The prepared antibodies
were used to study the y-tubulin distribution in nocodazole and taxol-treated cells.
In the cells recovering from the nocodazole treatment, y-tubulin was found in
centers of all microtubule asters. Examination of relative location of y-tubulin and
microtubule asters in taxol-treated mitotic cells 3T3, HeLa and PtK, revealed that
the number of taxol-induced microtubule asters exceeded the number of y-tubulinpositive spots. The y-tubulin was often found in the periphery of microtubule
asters. Centrosomal phosphoprotein epitope detected by MPM-2 antibody colocalized with y-tubulin in taxol-treated mitotic cells. The presented data suggest
that taxol-induced microtubule asters are in vivo nucleated independently of y-tubulin, and other minus-end nucleator(s)are necessary for formation of such asters.
Alternatively, y-tubulin is present in subthreshold amounts undetectable by immunofhorescence. 0 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Key words: mitotic cells, microtubule organizing centers, monoclonal antibodies, taxol, y-tubulin
Organization of microtubular network is, in animal
cells, controlled by microtubule organizing centers
(MTOCs) [Pickett-Heaps, 19691. Despite their remarkable structural variations in different species and cell
types, MTOCs have similar functions. They nucleate microtubule assembly, establish polarity of microtubules
with their fast growing (plus) ends distal to MTOCs and
determine the number of protofilaments in microtubules
that assemble from them. Centrosomes and ciliary or
flagellar basal bodies are the two most frequently studied
MTOCs [Brinkley , 1985; Vorobjev and Nadezhdina
19871. Centrosomes are generally composed of two
centrioles surrounded by electron-dense pericentriolar
material which nucleates the cytoplasmic network of microtubules. Microtubules can be nucleated also in centrosomes that lack centrioles, as for example, in mam0 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
malian oocytes undergoing meiosis [Szollosi et al.,
One of the almost ubiquitously present components
of MTOCs is y-tubulin, a member of the tubulin superfamily [Oakley and Oakley, 19891. It is a minor protein
compared with a- and P-tubulin, making up less than 1%
of total tubulin [Stearns et al., 19911, and it is phylogenetically highly conserved. The y-tubulins of humans
and Xenopus laevis share 98% identity [Oakley, 19941.
The amino acid identity with a- and P-tubulins is in the
range of 28-35% [Oakley, 19941. Immunolocalization
Received August 24, 1995; accepted September 5, 1995.
Address reprint requests to Pavel DrBber, Ph.D., Institute of Molecular Genetics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, VidefiskB
1083, 142 20 Praha 4, Czech Republic.
y-Tubulin in Taxol-Treated Mitotic Cells
of y-tubulin has shown that it was associated with centrosomes in interphase and with spindle poles in mitosis
[Joshi et al., 1992; Stearns et al., 1991; Zheng et al.,
19911. In mitotic cells it was also found in half-spindles
[Lajoie-Mazenc et al., 19941 and in midbodies during
cytokinesis [Julian et al., 19931. The y-tubulin was also
reported in acentriolar MTOCs during mouse development [Gueth-Hallonet et al., 1993; Palacios et al., 19931.
Moreover, y-tubulin was found in the vicinity of basal
bodies in retina photoreceptors and ciliated epithelia
[Muresan et al., 19931 and in the centriolar basal body of
the mouse sperm [Palacios et al., 19931. Microinjection
of mammalian cells with anti-y-tubulin antibody has
been shown to prevent the formation of both cytoplasmic
and mitotic microtubules [Joshi et al., 19921. In the light
of collected data it appears that y-tubulin could be a
universal component of MTOCs in vivo and may be
responsible for their nucleating activity independently of
their association with centrioles. More recent in vitro
experiments on reconstitution of centrosome assembly in
cell free extracts indicate that y-tubulin might be required not only for centrosome function but also for
centrosome formation [Fklix et al., 1994; Stearns and
Kirschner, 19941. The y-tubulin can form multiprotein
complexes with centrosomal proteins [Raff et al., 19931
and it was suggested that some of associated proteins
either on their own or in association with y-tubulin might
be directly involved in the nucleation of microtubules
[Sunkel et al., 19951.
Major tools for studying the distribution of y-tubulins are affinity-purified polyclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies against y-tubulin have not yet been
described. As y-tubulin is a minor protein and because it
was not obtained from cells in purified form, fusion proteins or synthetic peptides were used for preparation of
antibodies. The antibodies were raised against various
bacterially produced fusion proteins [Oakley et al., 1990;
Stearns et al., 19911 and highly conserved aminoterminal
[Joshi et al., 1992; Julian et al., 19931 and carboxyterminal sequences [Julian et al., 1993; Lajoie-Mazenc et
al., 19941 of y-tubulin.
Here we report on preparation and characterization
of monoclonal antibodies directed against a conserved
carboxyterminal sequence of y-tubulins. Using these antibodies we showed that y-tubulin is associated with the
microtubule-nucleating material in both the normal and
nocodazole-treated cells but not in taxol-treated mitotic
Mouse embryonic fibroblasts 3T3, mouse neuroblastoma Neuro-2a, mouse embryonal carcinoma P19X1,
human epidermoid carcinoma A-43 1, human amnion
cells AMA, human cervical adenocarcinoma HeLa S3, rat
kangaroo kidney PtK, and turkey embryonic fibroblast
TC-3 1 cells were grown on coverslips at 37°C in air with
5% CO, in RPMI-1640 medium supplemented with 3 mM
L-glutamine, 1 mM sodiumpyruvate, penicillin (100 i.u./
ml), streptomycin (100 pg/ml), gentamycin (20 pg/ml)
and 10% (v/v) heat-inactivated foetal calf serum.
Neuro-2a cells were also cultured in serum-free medium
for 3 days to allow formation of long projections. To some
of the cultures, taxol (National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD) and nocodazole (Sigma Chemie, Deisenhofen, Germany) at 10 pM were added for 1, 6, 18 and 24
hours. To wash off nocodazole, the cells were transferred
to a new medium and incubated for 3 or 6 min at 37°C
before fixation.
Peptide Synthesis
To prepare anti-y-tubulin antibodies, a 16-aminoacid peptide EYHAATRPDYISWGTQ corresponding to
the human y-tubulin sequence 434-449 [Zheng et al.,
19911 was synthesized. A cystein (C) had been added to
the amino terminus of the peptide in order to allow oriented coupling to the carrier proteins. In competitive
assays a 16-amino-acid peptide EEFATEGTDRKDVFFY corresponding to the human y-tubulin sequence
38-53 [Zheng et al., 19911 and an 8-amino-acid peptide
GEEEGEEY corresponding to the a-tubulin sequence
444-451 [Ponstingl et al., 19811 were also used. The
peptides were prepared by Dr. Ivan Blaha (Institute of
Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague) by the solid-phase
method [Merrifield, 19631 on the classic Merrifield’s
chlormethylated carrier. Details of peptide synthesis and
HPLC purification were described previously [Viklickf
et al., 19881.
Peptide (C)434-449 was covalently coupled to
maleimide activated keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)
or bovine serum albumin (BSA; Imject Activated Immunogen Conjugation Kit, Pierce, Rockford, IL) at a ratio
of 2 mg peptide/2 mg activated carrier protein according
to manufacturer’s directions and used for immunization
of rabbits and mice. Balbk 6-8-weeks-old mice were
immunized intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 100 pg of KLH
with coupled in Freund’s complete adjuvant. Booster injections of 100 pg of antigen in Freund’s incomplete
adjuvant were given i.p. at two-week intervals. Sera
were monitored for antibody activity by enzyme-linked
immunsorbent assay (ELISA) on BSA with coupled peptide and by indirect immunofluorescence on A-43 1 cells
fixed by cold methanol/acetone. Four days prior to fusion, the mice were injected intravenously with 100 pg
Novakova et al.
of antigen in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), pH 7.2.
The fusion with mouse myeloma cells Sp2/0, screening
by ELISA, cloning and production of ascitic fluids in
Balb/c mice have been described previously [Viklicky et
al., 1982; Draber et al., 19881. The subclasses of monoclonal antibodies were identified by isotyping kit (ISO- 1;
Sigma Chemie, Deisenhofen, Germany). Preparation of
rabbit antibodies against (C)434-449 peptide coupled to
KLH, as well as following affinity purification on
Sepharose 4B column with immobilized peptide coupled
to BSA, was performed essentially as described previously [Draber et al., 19911.
Microtubular structures were detected with affinity-purified polyclonal antibody against ap-tubulin heterodimer [Draber et al., 19911, mouse monoclonal antibody TU-01 (IgGl) against a-tubulin [Viklickg et al.,
19821 and mouse monoclonal antibody TU-04 (IgM)
against a-tubulin [Draber et al., 19891. The last one
was conjugated with lissamine rhodamine B sulphonylchloride [Brandtzaeg, 19731. A monoclonal antibody
MPM-2 against phosphorylated epitope in mitotic cells
[Davis et al., 19831 was kindly provided by Drs. P. Rao
and J. Kuang (University of Texas, Texas Medical Center, Houston). A monoclonal antibody HTF-14 (IgG1)
against human transferrin [Viklickg et al., 19831 was
used as a negative control. Fluorescein isothiocyanate
(F1TC)-conjugated anti-rabbit Ig antibody as well as
FITC-conjugated and horseradish peroxidase-conjugated anti-mouse Ig antibodies were from Sevac (Prague,
Czech Republic) , tetramethylrhodamine isothioc yanate
(TR1TC)-conjugated anti-rabbit Ig antibody was from
SANBIO (Uden, Holland) and anti-mouse Ig antibody
conjugated with alkaline phosphatase was purchased
from Promega Biotec (Madison, WI).
measurements were made for each test point. Standard
errors of the means of triplicate absorbance measurements were less than 3%.
Electrophoresis and lmmunoblotting
SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDSPAGE) was carried out according to Laemmli [1970].
Protein concentration in SDS-sample buffer was determined as described [Driber, 19911. Separated proteins
were transferred onto nitrocellulose sheets by electroblotting [Towbin et al., 19791. Details of the immunostaining procedure using secondary antibody labeled
with alkaline phosphatase are described elsewhere [Draber et al., 19881. The monoclonal antibody TU-01 was
used as an ascitic fluid diluted 1 :1,000; the monoclonal
anti y-tubulin antibodies were used as undiluted supernatants. Isoelectric points of the monoclonal antibodies
were determined by isoelectric focusing in a horizontal
thin layer with the help of PI markers (Pharmacia LKB
Biotechnology AB, Bromma, Sweden).
Extraction and fixation steps were carried out in a
microtubule stabilizing buffer (MSB) consisting of 0.1
M KMes, 2 mM EGTA, 2 mM MgCl,, 4% polyethylene
glycol 6000, pH 6.9. Fixed and unfixed cytoskeletons
were prepared as described [Draber et al., 19891. A brief
description of the fixation protocols, with abbreviations
in parentheses, follows. Cells grown on coverslips were
fixed for 10 min in methanol at -20°C followed by 6 min
in acetone at -20°C (MIA). Cells were also directly
fixed in methanol for 10 min at -20°C (M) or in acetone
for 10 rnin at -20°C (A). Alternatively cells were extracted for 1 min with 0.2% Triton X-100 at 37°C and
fixed for 20 min in 3% formaldehyde at the same temELISA
perature (Tx/F). Cells were also fixed for 30 rnin in 3%
Quantitative ELISA with monoclonal antibodies formaldehyde before extraction for 4 rnin with 0.5% Triwas performed essentially according to Landsdorp et al. ton X-100 at 37°C (F/Tx); or cells were fixed at 37°C for
119801 with 10 pgiml of BSA with coupled (C)434-449 3 rnin in 0.25% glutaraldehyde/0.5% Triton X-100 mixpeptide adsorbed on 96-well plastic plates (NUNC, ture, followed by 20 rnin incubation at the same temperRoskilde, Denmark). Competitive ELISA was per- ature in 1% glutaraldehyde and then three times (5 min
formed as described [Grimm et al., 19871 using HPLC- each) in 0.5 mg/ml NaBH, (G/Tx). Cells fixed by Tx/F
pure peptides, tubulin or BSA and prediluted superna- procedure were also postfixed by cold methanol (Tx/F/
tants. Values for the maximal optical density were M). To prepare unfixed cytoskeletons, cells were exbetween 0.8 and 0.9. Antibodies were mixed with vari- tracted for 1 rnin in 0.2% Triton X-100 at 37°C in the
able concentrations of peptides, phosphocellulose-puri- presence of 10 pM taxol (unfixed).
fied porcine brain tubulin or BSA and incubated for 60
All antibody dilutions were made with 2% BSA in
rnin at room temperature. The remaining antibody bind- PBS; all subsequent incubations were at room temperaing activity was detected in ELISA using peptide immo- ture. Fixed cytoskeletons were incubated for 45 rnin with
bilized on carrier. Bound antibodies were detected with mouse antibodies (undiluted hybridoma supernatants, asanti-mouse antibody conjugated with horseradish perox- citic fluids diluted 1:500), washed (three times, 5 min
idase and o-phenylene-diamine as chromogen. Optical each) in PBS, incubated for 45 min with FITC-conjudensity at 490 nm was measured with a Microelisa Mini gated anti-mouse Ig antibody (dilution 1 :30) and washed
Reader (Dynatech Laboratories, Alexandria, VA). Three again. In experiments on unfixed cytoskeletons, cover-
y-Tubulin in Taxol-Treated Mitotic Cells
slips were incubated for 60 min at 37°C with primary
antibodies and fixed in formaldehyde [DrAber et al.,
19891. For double-label fluorescence with two mouse
monoclonal antibodies, the remaining binding sites on
the FITC-conjugated antibody were blocked by 30-min
incubation with normal mouse serum diluted l:lO, prior
to 30-min incubation with rhodamine-conjugated antitubulin TU-04 antibody diluted 1:50 [Drhberova and
DrAber, 19931. For double-label immunofluorescence
with affinity-purified rabbit antibody against y-tubulin
and mouse monoclonal antibodies, the coverslips were
first incubated with polyclonal antibody (dilution 1: 10)
and after washing with monoclonal antibody. Slides
were thereafter incubated simultaneously with TRITCconjugated anti-rabbit Ig antibody and FITC-conjugated
anti-mouse Ig antibody.
The slides were incubated 10 min with HOECHST
33258 dye (Serva Feinbiochemica, Heidelberg, Germany) at a concentration of 1 pg/ml in PBS to detect
DNA, mounted in MOWlOL 4-88 (Calbiochem AG,
Lucerne, Switzerland) and examined with a Leitz Orthoplan microscope equipped with 50/1 .OO Fluorescence
water-immersion objective, epi-illumination using the
filter combination cubes N2, I2 and D, and an Orthomat
35 mm camera. Photographs were taken on Kodak TriXpan 400 film and printed on hard paper. Neither the
control antibody HTF-14 nor the conjugates alone gave
any specific staining. Tracing of prints prepared from
overexposed negatives helped to place the arrows and
arrowheads into identical positions in each pair of prints.
Characterization of Antibodies Against y-Tubulin
In order to have specific and standard reagents for
detection of y-tubulin, mouse monoclonal antibodies
against phylogenetically conserved peptide from the
C-terminal region of the molecule were prepared. The
antibodies TU-30 (IgG2b, PI 7.8-8.4), TU-31 (IgG2b,
PI 7.6-8.2) and TU-32 (IgG1, pI 6.6-7.0) reacted specifically in ELISA with corresponding peptide bound to
the carrier and decorated centrosomes in methanol/acetone-fixed A-431 cells that were used for screening. In
whole-cell lysates of various cultured animal cell lines,
the monoclonal antibodies reacted only with a protein of
relative mobility corresponding to 48 kDa polypeptide
and did not react with other proteins present in the
whole-cell lysate. Example of immunoblotting on 3T3
cell lysate is shown in Figure 1. The antibodies reacted in
immunoblotting neither with high-speed extracts of 3T3
cells nor with porcine brain microtubule protein prepared
by repeated cycles of polymerization-depolymerization
(not shown). The specificity of monoclonal antibodies
was further confirmed by competitive ELISA. The anti-
Fig. 1. Immunoblot of total extract of 3T3 cells with monoclonal
antibodies against y-tubulin. Lane 1: Coomassie Blue staining. Lanes
2-5: Immunoreactivity with antibodies TU-01 against a-tubulin, TU30, TU-31 and TU-32. Proteins were separated on 5% to 15% linear
polyacrylamide gel. Lanes 1-2 contained 35 p g of protein; lanes 3-5
contained 90 p g of protein. Bars on left margin indicate position, from
top to bottom, of specific molecular mass markers (205 kDa, 116 kDa,
97.4 kDa, 66 kDa, 45 kDa, 29 ma).
bodies were strongly inhibited by C-terminal peptide
EYHAATRPDYISWGTQ of y-tubulin that was used for
immunization; however, N-terminal peptide EEFATEGTDRKDVFFY of y-tubulin as well as C-terminal
peptide GEEEGEEY of tyrosinated a-tubulin did not exert any inhibitory effect at the highest concentration
tested (10 pM). Similarly, purified brain tubulin and
control bovine serum albumin were without effect at this
concentration. Figure 2 shows a typical example of competitive ELISA with antibody TU-30. The concentrations
of C-terminal peptide giving 50% inhibition of binding
for antibodies TU-30, TU-31 and TU-32 were 5 , 15 and
4 nM, respectively.
Monoclonal antibodies decorated during the cell
cycle all typical y-tubulin-containing structures. Figure 3
shows triple-label staining with anti-a-tubulin antibody,
anti-y-tubulin antibody and fluorescent DNA-binding
dye in 3T3 cells. The anti-y-tubulin antibodies stained
centrosome within interphase and duplicated centrosomes migrating to the opposite sites of nucleus within
prophase (Fig. 3a-c), spindle poles and two half-spindles
within metaphase (Fig. 3d-f) and microtubule bundles
forming midbodies within telophase (Fig. 3g-i). The
staining was prevented by preabsorption of antibodies
with C-terminal peptide of y-tubulin, but not with N-terminal peptide of y-tubulin (not shown). The antibodies
did not decorate interphase microtubules or short aster
microtubules at the spindle poles. In interphase cells two
Novakova et al.
Peptide concentration (nM)
Fig. 2 . Comparison of the reactivity of TU-30 antibody with peptides by indirect competitive ELISA.
C-terminal peptide of y-tubulin EYHAATRPDYISWGTQ (a),N-terminal peptide of y-tubulin EEFATEGTDRKDVFFY (m).
adjacent spots could be detected reflecting probably centrosomes after replication. The monoclonal antibodies
reacted with centrosomes in all tested cell lines of various species and different tissue origin. The following cell
lines were immunostained: human A-431, AMA and
HeLa cells, mouse 3T3, Neuro-2a and P19/X1 cells, rat
kangaroo PtK, cells and turkey TC-3 1. The cell lines
differed in the size of y-positive dots in interphase cells.
For example, in PtK2 cells the antibodies decorated large
dots (Fig. 4a-C) and in Neuro2a smaller dots (Fig. 4d-f)
in comparison with interphase 3T3 cells. In Neuro 2a,
cultivated under conditions when long processes were
observed, y-tubulin was detected only in cell bodies and
not in the projections (Fig. 4d,e).
Testing of the accessibility of antigenic determinants recognized by monoclonal antibodies in animal
cells prepared under various fixation conditions and in
unfixed cells revealed that cold methanol/acetone provided the best visualization of y-tubulin. This fixation
was therefore routinely used in immunofluorescence experiments. When cells were extracted by Triton X-100
and fixed by formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde, the antibodies did not decorate centrosomes in indirect immunofluorescence with anti-mouse antibody conjugated
with FZTC. The same results were obtained in unfixed,
detergent-extracted cells. When cytoskeletons prepared
by aldehyde fixations were postfixed by cold methanol,
the y-tubulin was available for binding of antibodies.
Affinity-purified polyclonal antibody against crp-tubulin
heterodimer decorated microtubular structures in all
fixed cytoskeleton preparation as well as in unfixed cells.
The effect of fixation on binding the monoclonal antibodies is summarized in Table I.
Distribution of y-Tubulin in
When 3T3 cells were incubated with 10 p M nocodazole for 1 , 4 , 18, or 24 hours and thereafter released
from the nocodazole treatment for 3 min or 6 min before
fixation, a regrowth of microtubules from centrosomes
was observed. Triple-label staining showed that y-tubulin was limited to the centers of microtubule asters as
shown in Figure 5a-c. In a small number of cells (less
than 1 % in cell population) as many as 8 microtubule
nucleation sites were found and y-tubulin was again located in centers of all microtubule asters. Figure 5d-f
shows the beginning of microtubule regrowth in such
cells 3 min after nocodazole release. No substantial differences in the intensity of y-tubulin immunofluorescence was observed among individual nucleating sites.
Distribution of y-Tubulin in Taxol-Treated
Mitotic Cells
Taxol, a microtubule stabilizing drug, causes in
interphase cells a rearrangement of microtubules into
bundles and in mitotic cells induces spindle disruption
y-Tubulin in Taxol-Treated Mitotic Cells
Fig. 3. Immunofluorescence triple-label staining of 3T3 cells in various stages of the cell cycle with antibody TU-30 against y-tubulin.
Cells were stained with anti-a-tubulin antibody TU-04 (a, d, g), an-
tibody TU-30 (b, e, h) and DNA-binding dye (c, f, i). The cells
in(a-c) are in interphase and prophase; the cell in (d-f) is in metaphase, and the cell in (g-i) is in telophase. Bar = 10 pm.
and assembly of a new microtubule asters [De Brabander was thus limited to only a few asters in one mitotic cell.
et al., 19861. 3T3 cells treated with 10 pM taxol for 18 In the remaining asters no y-tubulin was detected using
hours were characterized by multiple nuclei and by typ- immunofluorescence microscopy. The y-tubulin was ofical microtubule arrangements (Fig. 6). Triple-label ten found in the periphery of the microtubule asters as
staining with anti-a-tubulin antibody, anti-y-tubulin an- demonstrated on distribution of y-tubulin in the cell with
tibody and DNA-binding dye showed that in interphase multiple microtubule asters (arrows in Fig. 6g, h). The
cells y-tubulin was distributed randomly and usually out- y-tubulin was also found outside the center of microtuside of microtubule bundles (Fig. 6a-c). In cells that bule asters in cells treated with taxol for a shorter ( 1 and
entered mitosis, y-tubulin was located in the area where 4 hours) or longer (24 hours) time. This finding indicates
induced aster-like aggregates of short microtubules were that in taxol-treated cells y-tubulin does not nucleate the
found (arrows in Fig. 6d, e). Some 4-20 microtubule formation of microtubule asters.
asters were found in a single cell. Antibodies against
Differential localization of microtubule asters and
y-tubulin, however, stained only 1-4 spots in such cells. y-tubulin in taxol-treated mitotic cells was not limited
The localization of y-tubulin into the microtubule asters just to 3T3 cells. Similar distribution of y-tubulin was
Novakova et al.
Fig. 4. Immunofluorescence triple-label staining of PtK, cells and Neuro-2a cells with antibodies TU-3 1
and TU-32 against y-tubulin. Rat kangaroo kidney PtK, cells (a-c) and mouse neuroblastoma cells
Neuro-2a (d-f) were stained with anti-a-tubulin antibody TU-04 (a, d), antibody TU-31 (b), TU-32 (e)
and DNA-binding dye (c, f ) . Arrows indicate the same positions. Bar = 10 pm.
TABLE I. Effect of Fixation Procedure on Reactivity of Antibodies With Centrosomes of
3T3 Cells
Fixation Drotocol"
aDescription of fixation protocols is in Materials and Methods.
bStaining of microtubular structures with affinity-purified polyclonal antibody against ap-tubulin heterodimer.
'M, methanol; A, acetone; Tx, Triton X-100; F, formaldehyde; G , glutaraldehyde.
, strong; + , moderately strong; -, negative.
also observed in taxol-treated mitotic HeLa and PtK,
cells. Figure 7 demonstrates the results of triple-label
staining of HeLa cells with anti-a-tubulin antibody, antiy-tubulin antibody and DNA-binding dye. In all taxoltreated mitotic cells the number of microtubule asters
exceeded that of y-tubulin-positive spots (arrows in Fig.
7a, b). At higher magnification, y-tubulin did not seem
to be located in the center of the asters (arrows in Fig.
7d, e).
Triple-label staining of taxol-treated mitotic 3T3
cells was performed with anti-y-tubulin antibody, the
MPM-2 antibody recognizing centrosomal phosphopro-
y-Tubulin in Taxol-Treated Mitotic Cells
Fig. 5 . The distribution of y-tubulin in 3T3 cells recovering from
nocodazole arrest. Cells were treated with 10 pM nocodazole for 18
hours, fixed after a 6-min ( a x ) or 3-min (d-f) incubation in medium
without nocodazole and triple-label-stained with anti-a-tubulin antibody TU-04 (a), anti-y-tubulin antibody TU-30 (b) and DNA-binding
dye (c). Bar = 10 pm.
tein epitope that is known to increase substantially in
mitosis [Davis et al., 19831, and DNA-binding dye in
order to compare the locations of corresponding antigens
in microtubule asters. Association of MPM-2 epitope
with spindle poles in untreated mitotic cells is shown in
Figure 8a-c. In taxol-treated mitotic cells MPM-2 staining was located in the centers of some microtubule asters
only (arrows in Fig. 8d, e) and its distribution was similar to that of y-tubulin. To see whether these centrosoma1 antigens codistribute in taxol-treated mitotic cells,
triple-label staining was performed with polyclonal affinity-purified anti-y-tubulin antibody, MPM-2 antibody
and DNA-binding dye. In all tested samples the MPM-2
epitope colocalized with y-tubulin staining in mitotic
cells (arrows in Fig. 8g, h). However, in taxol-treated
interphase cells only y-tubulin was detected (arrowheads
in Fig. 8g, h). The colocalization of MPM-2 antigen and
y-tubulin in taxol-treated mitotic cells was observed also
in PtK, cells (not shown). The results shown in Figure 8
indicate that the two centrosomal antigens are not associated with microtubule aster formation induced by taxol
in vivo.
y-Tubulin has been shown to be a ubiquitous component of MTOC and it has been proposed that it plays a
key role in the nucleation of microtubule arrays in vivo
[Joshi, 19931. As y-tubulin has not been purified in functional form, in vitro evidence on direct association of
y-tubulin with ap-heterodimer in the course of microtubule nucleation is still missing. Immunofluorescence
studies with polyclonal antibodies revealed that y-tubulin
is present not only in MTOC but also in mitotic spindle
[Lajoie-Mazenc et al., 19941 and in midbody of mammalian cells during cytokinesis [Julian et al., 19931. The
localization and timing of y-tubulin during the cell cycle
is probably highly regulated and its physiological role
could be more diverse than initially assumed [LajoieMazenc et al., 19941. Recent data demonstrated that
y-tubulin was required not only for nucleation of cytoplasmic microtubules but also for formation of mature
centrosomes in cell-free systems [Felix et al., 1994;
Stearns and Kirschner, 19941 and for the formation of
normal MTOC in Drosophila [Sunkel et al., 19951. Here
Novakova et al.
Fig. 6. The distribution of y-tubulin in taxol-treated mitotic 3T3 cells.
Cells were incubated for 18 hours with 10 (*M taxol, fixed and triplelabel-stained with anti-a-tubulin antibody TU-04 (a, d, g), anti-
y-tubulin antibody TU-30 (b, e, h) and DNA-binding dye (c, f, i). The
interphase cell is in a<, mitotic cells are in d-i. Arrows in each pair
of prints are placed in identical position. Bar = 10 kni.
we report on redistribution of y-tubulin detected by
monoclonal antibodies in taxol-treated mitotic cells.
Monoclonal antibodies were prepared against synthetic peptide from the carboxyterminal region of human
y-tubulin and the specificity of antibodies was confirmed
by double immunofluorescence with affinity-purified
polyclonal antibody against y-tubulin, by immunoblotting and competitive ELISA. In 3T3 cells the antibodies
stained centrosomes within interphase and spindle poles,
half-spindles and midbodies within mitosis. No staining
of interphase microtubules was detected. During mitosis
the amount of y-tubulin observed in spindle poles was
much higher than the amount detected in the interphase
centrosomes. Antibodies decorated only half-spindles
which participate in the structure of spindles and not
astral microtubules emanating from spindle poles. Preincubation of the antibodies with peptide used for immunization precluded the labelling of all above mentioned
structures. However, preincubation of antibodies with
peptide corresponding to the aminoterminal region of
y-tubulin or with purified porcine brain ap-tubulin heterodimer did not affect the staining. The antibodies
therefore do not cross-react with tubulin heterodimer;
this finding is in agreement with the results of immuno-
y-Tubulin in Taxol-Treated Mitotic Cells
Fig. 7. The distribution of y-tubulin in taxol-treated mitotic HeLa
cells. Cells were incubated for 18 hours with 10 p M taxol, fixed
and triple-label-stained with anti-a-tubulin antibody TU-04 (a, d),
anti-y-tubulin antibody TU-30 (b, e) and DNA-binding dye (c, 0 .
Arrows in each pair of prints are placed in identical position. Bar =
10 pm.
blotting on whole-cell lysates and competitive ELISA.
The observed immunofluorescence staining pattern is in
accordance with the described staining of interphase centrosomes [Stearns et al., 1991; Zheng et al., 1991; Joshi
et al., 19921, half-spindles [Lajoie-Mazenc et al., 19941
and midbodies [Julian et al., 19931 with affinity-purified
polyclonal antibodies against different y-tubulin sequences. Failure to detect y-tubulin in half-spindles and
midbodies in previous immunological studies with polyclonal antibodies [Stearns et al., 1991; Zheng et al.,
1991; Joshi et al., 19921 could reflect lower titers of used
antibodies. The monoclonal antibodies were raised
against phylogenetically highly conserved peptide and
stained centrosomes, mitotic spindles and midbodies in
all tested cell lines from evolutionally distant species
including avian cells. Antibodies also immunostained
cultured plant cells from Nicotiana tabacum (A.
Smertenko and P. DrBber, unpublished data). In mouse
neuroblastoma cells Neuro2a-cultured for several days in
serum-free medium, long projections were observed.
These were stained with antibody against a-tubulin, but
not by monoclonal anti-y-tubulin antibodies. As in non-
neuronal cells, y-tubulin was located only in pericentriolar region. We thus confirm on a different model the
previous finding of Baas and Joshi [ 19921, obtained on
rat sympathetic neurons by immunoelectron microscopy
with polyclonal anti-y-tubulin antibody.
To determine whether the exposure of antigenic
determinants, recognized by corresponding antibodies, is
dependent on fixation procedure, different fixation protocols were applied to interphase 3T3 cells. We observed
that centrosome staining with monoclonal antibodies as
well as with affinity-purified polyclonal antibody against
y-tubulin (not shown) was fixation-dependent (Table I).
In preparation fixed only in formaldehyde (30 min) or
glutaraldehyde (20 min) centrosomes were not detected.
Neither was staining observed in unfixed detergent-extracted cells. Centrosomes were, however, visualized after cold methanol or acetone treatment or in cell fixed
with formaldehyde and postfixed with methanol or acetone. On the other hand anti-a-tubulin monoclonal antibodies of IgG as well as IgM class or affinity-purified
antibody against a@-tubulin heterodimer stained cytoplasmic microtubules in all tested fixation protocols.
Novakova et al.
Fig. 8. The distribution of MPM-2 antigen in 3T3 cells. Untreated
cells (a<) or cells incubated 18 hours with 10 FM taxol (d-i) were
fixed and triple-label-stained with anti-a-tubulin antibody TU-04 (a,
d), MPM-2 antibody (b, e) and DNA-binding dye (c, f ) . Localization
of MPM-2 antigen and y-tubulin in taxol-treated cells was visualized
by triple-label staining with polyclonal affinity-purified anti-y-tubulin
antibody (g), MPM-2 antibody (h) and Hoechst 33258 (i). Arrows and
arrowheads indicate the same position in mitotic or interphase cells,
respectively. Bar = 10 Fm.
Similarly, microtubules were stained with polyclonal antibody to brain tubulin in detergent-extracted cells. These
data indicate that changes in y-tubulin conformation or
changes in distribution of proteins associated with y-tubulin are necessary for exposure of the carboxyterminal
region of the molecule for binding of antibodies. Differential exposure of tubulin epitopes on cytoplasmic microtubules was previously described in fixed or in detergent-extracted cells [DrBber et al., 19891.
In nocodazole-treated 3T3 cells, y-tubulin was located at microtubule nucleating sites in cells recovering
from the nocodazole treatment. In a small number of
cells, multiple nucleation sites were observed, all of
them y-tubulin-positive. Multiple nucleation sites could
result from centrosomal duplication or centrosomal fragmentation after a prolonged nocodazole treatment. A diminished y-tubulin staining of some nucleation sites, reflecting centrosome fragmentation, was described in the
nocodazole-treated Xenopus XTC cells [Stearns et al.,
19911. However, we observed an identical staining of all
y-tubulin-positive sites in the cells treated with nocodazole for various time intervals.
In contrast to cells recovering from the nocodazole
treatment, y-tubulin in the taxol-treated mitotic cells was
usually located outside microtubule asters. Such a localization of y-tubulin was found in all tested cultured animal cell lines. In tdxol-treated cells the localization of
y-tubulin was identical with that of the centrosomal
y-Tubulin in Taxol-Treated Mitotic Cells
phosphoprotein epitope recognized by the MPM-2 antibody [Davis et al., 19831 in mitotic cells. In all tested
cases the y-tubulin staining appeared to be identical with
that of MPM-2. These results demonstrate that in tested
cell lines y-tubulin is not involved in nucleation of microtubule asters free of centrosomes or is only present in
quantities undetectable by immunofluorescence. Previously it has been shown that also another marker of pericentriolar matrix, 5051 antigen detected by human autoimmune serum [Calarco-Gillan et al., 19831, was not
located in centers of taxol-induced microtubule asters
[Kallajoki et al., 19921. It has been proposed that in
taxol-induced microtubule asters the minus ends of microtubules were situated at the aster centers [De Brabander et al., 1986; Maekawa et al., 19911. In this respect taxol asters resemble the centrosomes. Several
proteins are known to locate to the centers of taxol-induced microtubule asters and they could thus be directly
or indirectly involved in microtubule nucleation. These
include the 0013 antigen [Gosti-Testu et al., 19861,
CTR2611 antigen [Buendia et al., 19901, calmodulin
[De Brabander et al., 19861, and nuclear protein that
associates with the mitotic apparatus and that was described under different names such as NuMA, SPN,
SP-H, IH1 antigen, W1, centrophilin [for review see
Compton and Cleveland, 19941. It was proposed that
NuMA might act as a microtubular minus-end organizer
in mitotic cells in vivo [Kallajoki et al., 1992; Maekawa
et al., 19911.
Microtubules are nucleated in the absence of centrioles in mammalian oocytes and early embryos, in contrast to adult somatic cells. It has been shown that in
mouse oocytes y-tubulin was associated both with spindle poles and cytoplasmic MTOC [Gueth-Hallonet et al.,
1993; Palacios et al., 19931. In taxol-treated oocytes
y-tubulin was found in the center of many cytoplasmic
asters induced by taxol [Gueth-Hallonet et al., 19931.
The 505 1 antigen, another component of pericentriolar
matrix, was also located to the center of taxol-induced
microtubule asters in mouse oocytes [Maro et al., 19851.
Early mouse embryos contain a large pool of soluble
y-tubulin and it is possible that some of the material
found in the asters was recruited from a soluble stock of
molecules [Gueth-Hallonet et al., 19931. However, in
PtK, cells 5051 antigen [Kallajoki et al., 19921 and y-tubulin (this work) were usually found outside taxol-induced microtubule asters. This suggests an involvement
of different sets of proteins in the formation of taxolinduced microtubule asters in oocytes and in differentiated cells.
It has been shown that taxol induced the formation
of microtubule asters in cell-free extracts of Xenopus
eggs [Verde et al., 19911. Aster assembly requires phosphorylation and it is dependent on the mitotic state. The
asters do not grow from preformed nucleation centers but
microtubules aggregate and induce the reorganization of
pericentriolar material through the action of the minus
end-directed motor cytoplasmic dynein. A similar effect
in mitotic Xenopus egg extract has dimethyl sulfoxide
(DMSO) [Stearns and Kirschner, 19941. The y-tubulin
as well as MPM-2 antigen(s) were localized to the centers of DMSO or taxol-induced asters [Stearns and
Kirschner, 19941. This implied that y-tubulin was able to
associate with the minus end of microtubules made in
solution from mitotic extracts. Our finding that y-tubulin
is not associated with taxol-induced asters in mitotic cells
of various cultured cell lines could reflect the differences
between the used models, i.e., animal somatic cells, versus Xenopus eggs. Alternative explanations would imply
that the formation of taxol-induced asters in vivo is a
more complicated process.
In conclusion, our data indicate that in taxol-treated
mitotic cells microtubule asters are nucleated independently of y-tubulin or that y-tubulin is present in amounts
undetectable by immunofluorescence microscopy. Other
minus-end nucleator(s) are probably necessary for generation of taxol-induced microtubule asters in vivo in
cultured somatic cell lines. Prepared monoclonal antibodies could be a useful tool for further elucidation
of y-tubulin function and regulation in different cell
Taxol was a generous gift of the Drug Synthesis
and Chemistry Branch, Division of Cancer Treatment,
National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, MD). We thank
Drs. P. Rao and J. Kuang for a gift of MPM-2 antibody.
This work was supported in parts by grants 552407 and
752101 from the Czech Academy Grant Agency and by
a grant from the Austrian Ministerium fur Wissenschaft
und Forschung.
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