Thrombin cleavage of bovine brain microtubule-associated protein (MAP-2) yields two stable limit polypeptide fragments (28,000 and 240,000 Mr). The smaller cleavage product contains the microtubule-binding domain and is derived from the carboxyl terminus of MAP-2 while the 240,000 Mr fragment is derived from the amino terminus. The amino terminal sequence of the smaller cleavage product is homologous with the microtubule-binding fragment of tau in sequence and in a similar location relative to three imperfect octadecapeptide repeats implicated in microtubule binding. Peptides corresponding to the cleavage site and the three repeats of MAP-2 were synthesized. Only the second octadecapeptide repeat (VTSKCGSLKNIRHRPGGG) was capable of stimulating microtubule nucleation and elongation. Microtubules formed in the presence of this peptide displayed normal morphology and retained the inhibition properties of calcium ion, podophyllotoxin, and colchicine. Our result indicates that a region comprising only approximately 1% of the MAP-2 sequence can promote microtubule assembly.

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