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Inhibition of Microtubule Depolymerization by Osmolytes

Bachand, George D., Jain, Rishi, Ko, Randy, Bouxsein, Nathan F., VanDelinder, Virginia
Biomacromolecules 2018 v.19 no.7 pp. 2401-2408
depolymerization, eukaryotic cells, microtubules, neoplasms, neurodegenerative diseases, osmotic pressure, paclitaxel, physiology, polyethylene glycol, polymerization, proteins, therapeutics
Microtubule dynamics play a critical role in the normal physiology of eukaryotic cells as well as a number of cancers and neurodegenerative disorders. The polymerization/depolymerization of microtubules is regulated by a variety of stabilizing and destabilizing factors, including microtubule-associated proteins and therapeutic agents (e.g., paclitaxel, nocodazole). Here we describe the ability of the osmolytes polyethylene glycol (PEG) and trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) to inhibit the depolymerization of individual microtubule filaments for extended periods of time (up to 30 days). We further show that PEG stabilizes microtubules against both temperature- and calcium-induced depolymerization. Our results collectively suggest that the observed inhibition may be related to combination of the kosmotropic behavior and excluded volume/osmotic pressure effects associated with PEG and TMAO. Taken together with prior studies, our data suggest that the physiochemical properties of the local environment can regulate microtubule depolymerization and may potentially play an important role in in vivo microtubule dynamics.