Structures that cap the plus ends of microtubules may be involved in the regulation of their assembly and disassembly. Growing and disassembling microtubules in the mitotic apparatus are capped by kinetochores and ciliary and flagellar microtubules are capped by the central microtubule cap and distal filaments. To compare the ciliary caps with kinetochores, isolated Tetrahymena cilia were stained with CREST (Calcinosis/phenomenon esophageal dysmotility, sclerodactyly, telangiectasia) antisera known to stain kinetochores. Immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that a CREST antiserum stained the distal tips of cilia that contained capping structures but did not stain axonemes that lacked capping structures. Both Coomassie blue-stained gels and Western blots probed with CREST antiserum revealed that a 97-kD antigen copurifies with the capping structures. Affinity-purified antibodies to the 97-kD ciliary protein stained the tips of cap-containing Tetrahymena cilia and the kinetochores in HeLa, Chinese hamster ovary, and Indian muntjak cells. These results suggest that at least one polypeptide found in the kinetochore is present in ciliary microtubule capping structures and that there may be a structural and/or functional homology between these structures that cap the plus ends of microtubules.

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