Polymerized and depolymerized forms of tubulin were measured in rat and mouse liver, rat islets, human lymphocytes, and platelets. The percent of the total tubulin present in the polymerized form varied from 30.3 +/- 1.5% in the liver of the fed rat to 89.2 +/- 0.2% in human platelets. Fasting decreased the total tubulin and to a greater extent the polymerized form of tubulin in both rat and mouse liver. Glucose feeding increased the polymerized tubulin without affecting the total tubulin content in rat liver. Phytohemagglutinin-stimulated lymphocytes exhibited at least a three-fold increase in total tubulin (expressed in terms of DNA content), which during the initial 48 h of incubation was accounted for in toto by an increase in polymerized tubulin. It is suggested that the lectin not only accelerates tubulin synthesis but also stimulated the polymerization process. Storage of platelets at 4 degrees C for 6 days resulted in a marked decrease in total tubulin and an even greater reduction in the polymerized form. It is concluded that both the total tubulin content and its degree of polymerization can be modulated independently by a wide variety of physiological factors.

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