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High-powered microscopic techniques give scientists detailed view of a critical component of cellular infrastructure

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The cellular interior is criss-crossed by protein-based cables known as microtubules, each formed from 13 'protofilaments' composed of the protein tubulin. Microtubules are also associated with a host of other specialized proteins that help coordinate the transport of molecular cargoes and link microtubules to intracellular structures.

A research team led by Yuko Mimori-Kiyosue from the Optical Image Analysis Unit of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology is involved in the study of a subset of proteins that preferentially localize near the microtubule ends and regulate their assembly and disassembly. By performing an up-close examination of two such proteins, end-binding 1 (EB1) and colonic–hepatic tumor-overexpressed gene (ch-TOG), the team have now revealed surprising new details about the organization of microtubule ends.

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