beta-Tubulin is encoded in the genomes of higher animals by a small multigene family comprising approximately seven functional genes. These genes produce a family of closely related, but distinct polypeptide isotypes that are distinguished principally by sequences within the approximately 15 carboxy-terminal amino acid residues. By immunizing rabbits with chemically synthesized peptides corresponding to these variable domain sequences, we have now prepared polyclonal antibodies specific for each of six distinct isotypes. Specificity of each antiserum has been demonstrated unambiguously by antibody binding to bacterially produced, cloned proteins representing each isotype and by the inhibition of such binding by preincubation of each antiserum only with the immunizing peptide and not with heterologous peptides. Protein blotting of known amounts of cloned, isotypically pure polypeptides has permitted accurate quantitative measurement of the amount of each beta-tubulin isotype present in the soluble and polymer forms in various cells, but has not revealed a bias for preferential assembly of any isotype. Localization of each isotype in three different cell types using indirect immunofluorescence has demonstrated that in vivo each class of microtubules distinguishable by light microscopy is assembled as copolymers of all isotypes expressed in a single cell.

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