The colchicine-binding activity of tubulin has been utilized to distinguish the tubulins from two distinct microtubule systems of the same species, the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. We have analyzed the colchicine-binding affinities of highly purified tubulins from the unfertilized eggs and from the flagellar outer doublet microtubules by van't Hoff analysis, and have found significant differences in the free energy, enthalpy, and entropy changes characterizing the binding of colchicine to the two tubulins. The data indicate that significant chemical differences in the tubulins from the two functionally distinct microtubule systems exist, and that the differences are expressed in the native forms of the tubulins. Our findings are discussed in terms of the possibility that the colchicine-binding site may be an important regulatory site on the tubulin molecule.

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