Microtubule nucleation through phase separation

Updated: Jan 16

by Amayra Hernández-Vega

Cells must build cytoskeleton structures, such as microtubules, where they are locally needed within the cell, but how do they do this? In this video abstract, Amayra Hernández-Vega explains that in a test tube, microtubules can be formed locally through phase separation. She found that the protein Tau can phase separate into droplets, which can then concentrate enough tubulin to nucleate and build microtubules.

Read more in the full paper, published in the journal Cell Reports.

Amayra Hernández-Vega is a postdoc in the lab of Tony Hyman at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. This work was a collaboration with the labs of Stefan Diez and Simon Alberti.

Related resources

• Read two perspectives on this paper on Alzforum.org

Learn more about the protein Tau, famous for its role in diseases like Alzheimer's.

Related Science Sketches

• Learn about a structure that builds microtubules for the purpose of cell division, the centrosome, in this Science Sketch by Jeff Woodruff.

• Learn more about phase separation in cells in this Science Sketch by Louise Jawerth.

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