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Structural biochemistry of Microtubules : Motors and Regulation

Group leader: Marcel Knossow

 


Our research interest is in the mechanisms by which proteins carry out complex functions in cells. During the last few years, we have focused our attention on the control of the microtubules cytoskeleton assembly.

Microtubules are dynamic constituents of the cytoskeleton involved in such fundamental cell functions as cell division, intracellular traffic or neuronal growth. The main component of microtubules is tubulin, a heterodimeric protein. Assembly dynamics of microtubules is controlled by three classes of agents :

  • tubulin, as microtubule assembly dynamics is observed with purified tubulin.
  • proteins, such as those of the stathmin family, which have been proposed to integrate signals of the cell environment. Many more proteins regulate microtubule assembly.
  • pharmacological compounds of low molecular weight, such as taxol, colchicine and vinblastine, which modify mirotubule dynamics when they bind to tubulin or to microtubules. Some of these compounds are currently used in cancer therapy.

Our group studies the role of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions in microtubule assembly. Methods currently used in the lab are those of structural biology, biochemistry and physical chemistry.

 

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