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Rescuing microtubules from the brink of catastrophe: CLASPs lead the way


Lawrence EJ , Zanic M , . Current opinion in cell biology. 2018 11 16; 56(). 94-101


Microtubules are cytoskeletal polymers that dynamically remodel to perform essential cellular functions. Individual microtubules alternate between phases of growth and shrinkage via sudden transitions called catastrophe and rescue, driven by losing and regaining a stabilizing cap at the dynamic microtubule end. New in vitro studies now show that a conserved family of CLASP proteins specifically modulate microtubule catastrophe and rescue transitions. Further, recent cryo-electron microscopy approaches have elucidated new structural features of the stabilizing cap. Together, these new advances provide a clearer view on the complexity of the microtubule end and its regulation.