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Quantitative mapping of dense microtubule arrays in mammalian neurons

By Eugene A. Katrukha, Daphne Jurriens, Desiree Salas Pastene, Lukas Kapitein

Posted 26 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.26.432992

The neuronal microtubule cytoskeleton underlies the polarization and proper functioning of neurons, amongst others by providing tracks for motor proteins that drive intracellular transport. Different subsets of neuronal microtubules, varying in composition, stability and motor preference, are known to exist, but the high density of microtubules has so far precluded mapping their relative abundance and three-dimensional organization. Here we use different super-resolution techniques (STED, Expansion Microscopy) to explore the nanoscale organization of the neuronal microtubule network. This revealed that in dendrites stable, acetylated microtubules are enriched in the core of the dendritic shaft, while dynamic, tyrosinated microtubules enrich near the plasma membrane, thus forming a shell around the stable microtubules. Moreover, using a novel analysis pipeline we quantified the absolute number of acetylated and tyrosinated microtubules within dendrites and found that they account for 65-75% and [~]20-30% of all microtubules, respectively, leaving only few microtubules that do not fall in either category. Because these different microtubule subtypes facilitate different motor proteins, these novel insights help to understand the spatial regulation of intracellular transport.

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