The free sulfhydryls of brain tubulin prepared by cyclic polymerization procedures both with and without glycerol have been examined. The average free sulfhydryl titer of tubulin prepared with glycerol (7.0 sulfhydryls/55,000 mol wt) is greater than that of tubulin prepared without glycerol (4.0 sulfhydryls/55,000 mol wt). Diamide, a sulfhydryl-oxidizing agent, inhibits the polymerization of tubulin. Diamide also disperses the 20S and 30S oligomers of tubulin seen in analytical ultracentrifuge patterns of tubulin solutions and, depending on the temperature at which diamide is added, converts all or part of the oligomeric material to 6S dimers. Electron microscopy demonstrates that diamide also destroys the 450-A ring structures characteristic of tubulin solutions. All diamide effects are reversible by the addition of 10 mM dithioerythreitol, a sulfhydryl-reducing agent. That diamide interacts with sulfhydryls on tubulin is directly demonstrated by a 50% decrease in the free sulfhydryl titer of tubulin measured after diamide treatment. Concentrations of CaCl2 which inhibit polymerization also decrease the free sulfhydryl titer of tubulin.

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