Katanin, the microtubule-severing ATPase, is concentrated at centrosomes

Francis J. McNally, Katsuya Okawa, Akihiro Iwamatsu, Ronald D. Vale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


The assembly and function of the mitotic spindle involve specific changes in the dynamic properties of microtubules. One such change results in the poleward flux of tubulin in which spindle microtubules polymerize at their kinetochore-attached plus ends while they shorten at their centrosome-attached minus ends. Since free microtubule minus ends do not depolymerize in vivo, the poleward flux of tubulin suggests that spindle microtubules are actively disassembled at or near their centrosomal attachment points. The microtubule-severing ATPase, katanin, has the ability actively to sever and disassemble microtubules and is thus a candidate for the role of a protein mediating the poleward flux of tubulin. Here we determine the subcellular localization of katanin by immunofluorescence as a preliminary step in determining whether katanin mediates the poleward flux of tubulin. We find that katanin is highly concentrated at centrosomes throughout the cell cycle. Katanin's localization is different from that of γ-tubulin in that microtubules are required to maintain the centrosomal localization of katanin. Direct comparison of the localization of katanin and γ-tubulin reveals that katanin is localized in a region surrounding the γ-tubulin-containing pericentriolar region in detergent-extracted mitotic spindles. The centrosomal localization of katanin is consistent with the hypothesis that katanin mediates the disassembly of microtubule minus ends during poleward flux.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-567
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1996


  • Centrosome
  • Katanin
  • Microtubule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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