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Flashcards in Cytoskeleton I Deck (31)

1. Discuss the concept of a cytoskeleton.
2. Describe microtubule and intermediate filament cytoskeleton (their properties, their functional roles, and their protein composition).
3. Discuss cytoskeletal dynamics and the role of certain proteins and drugs in tubulin polymerization/depolymerization.
4. Explain the concept of molecular motor. Explain the mechanisms of tubulin-based movement and intracellular transport.
5. Discuss the role of microtubules in mitosis.
6. Discuss the cytoskeleton in the context of disease processes.



Functions of the cytoskeleton (6)

1) cell shape
2) mechanical strength
3) structures needed for locomotion
4) support for the plasma membrane
5) scaffold for the spatial organization of organelles
6) means for intracellular transport of organelles and other cargo


3 families of structures:

microfilaments, microtubules, and intermediate filaments.

[Microfilaments = actin cytoskeleton]


Microtubules (MTs) function primarily as:

1) scaffolds for the spatial organization of organelles
2) organelle movement
3) movement of cilia and flagella.


Microtubules are typically attached at one end to the _____, also known as ______, which is made up of _______ and is typically located near the _____.

Centrosome; perinuclear microtubule organizing center (MTOC); 2 centrioles; nucleus


Microtubules are made of 13 parallel ______, which themselves are composed of heterodimeric repeats composed of _____.

protofilaments; tubulin alpha and tubulin beta;


These protofilaments have a + and - end based on ____?

Whether the alpha or beta subunit is exposed.


GTP-bearing β subunits favor _____, so that end of the tubule, known as ______, is the one that _____.

The opposite end, or ____, tends to be _____.

polymerization; plus-end; grows

minus-end; disassembling or shrinking


What regulates stability at the + end?

The accessibility of the GTP. When the B subunit is bound to GTP, it is stable. Hence the idea of a "GTP cap." When bound to GDP, however, the B subunit "kinks" which causes rapid depolymerization from the + end.


What differentiates the 8 isoforms of the B subunit? What is the purpose of these structures?

The tails. The tail domain seems to help the cleavage proteins initiate cleavage. Without the tail domains, MTs cannot be readily disassembled.


_____ form the basal bodies of cilia and flagella.



The GTP attached to the alpha subunit is (exposed/not exposed)

not exposed


Two microtubule severing proteins were mentioned in class. What were they? For which were we given a clinical correlate?

katanin, spastin. A mutation in spastin causes Hereditary spastic paraplesia.

[without spastin the parallel microtubule tracks in neurons become disorganized and neurotransmitter transport to the synaptic junction is compromised]


Two different classes of MT motors exist, ____, which move cargo toward the plus-end, and ______, which move cargo toward the minus-end.

kinesins; dyneins

[Kinesins require adapters to bind cargo. Not sure if dyneins do]


When the head of the motor is bound to ATP, it _____ MT. When it is bound to ADP, it _______ MT.

binds; does not bind


Molecular motors made of heterodimers _______ feet to move along the MT. Homodimers _____ feet to move.

step same foot forward each time; swing alternate feet in front of each other


Three types of MTs can be distinguished:

In all cases, MT plus-ends point _____ from the centrosomes (or spindle poles).

1) astral MTs that radiate out from the centrosomes;
2) kinetochore MTs that are attached to the kinetochore formed at the centromere of each duplicated chromosome
3) overlap MTs that interdigitate at the equator of the spindle.



Please describe the structure of intermediate filaments, beginning with the smallest subunit and working upwards.

Alpha helical coils bind in parallel dimers. These then form coiled coils in antiparallel fashion to form a dimer (of coiled coils). Two dimers align at opposite poles to form a tetramer of coiled coils (8 individual subunits).

Eight tetramers align side by side (16 individual subunits) that overlap with another eight tetramers such that each section has a total of 32 helices that provide great tensile strength.


_____ are present in a majority of cell types.



______, a family of about 50 proteins, are dominant components of the epidermis and its appendages, providing mechanical strength.



_____ (three types) co-assemble to form_____, which are found in high concentration in vertebrate axons.

Neurofilament proteins; neurofilaments

[Neurofilament abundance appears to control axonal diameter.]


______ is the IF protein characteristic of astrocytes in the CNS.

Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)

[Therefore, GFAP IFs are abundant in connection with inflammatory and/or degenerative processes in the brain. For example, Alzheimer plaques are surrounded by GFAP-rich reactive astrocytes.]


Keratin mutations may interfere with filament assembly. The resulting epidermis is highly sensitive to mechanical stress and blisters easily, causing a severe disorder called _____-. Mutations in some of the associated proteins (e.g., those that anchor the filaments in desmosomes) may result in similar clinical syndromes.

epidermolysis bullosa simplex


Neurofilaments: Mutations in the light chain may interfere with axonal transport of neurofilament subunits and cause a peripheral neuropathy called ______.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome


Abnormal neurofilament assembly seems to be involved in the neurodegenerative disease_______.

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease)


Mutations in lamins can result in nuclear instability. Lamin mutations are linked to _____. This is caused by a dominant negative product caused by a mutation that prevents cleavage near the c terminus of a protein. CAAX remains bound to the membrane.



predominant protein

structure: tubular, 25 nm diameter
predominant protein: alpha and beta tubulin
function: movement of flagella and cilia, scaffold for cell organization and movement of organelles (including chromosomes)


intermediate filaments:
predominant protein

structure: complex rope, 10 nm diameter
protein composition: vimentin, keratin, neurofilament protein, others
fxn: mechanical stability


predominant protein

helical filament, 5-9 nm diameter
cell movement, contraction


Most cell types have multiple kinesins, so loss or mutation of one does not lead to significant pathology. For _____ however, only K8/K18 are expressed making people with mutations in these genes prone to _____.

hepatocytes; liver failure


What are kinesins often used as, clinically?

Markers for cancer. Cells maintain original expression of kinesins after metastazising, so it may be possible to tell where a cancer originated based on expression of these markers. (Or so I gathered from lecture :)