Mammalian neurofilaments prepared from brain and spinal cord by either of two methods partially inhibit the in vitro assembly of microtubules. This inhibition is shown to be due to the association of a complex of high molecular weight microtubule-associated proteins (MAP1 and MAP2) and tubulin with the neurofilament. Further analysis of the association reveals a saturable binding of purified brain MAPs to purified neurofilaments with a Kd of 10(-7) M. Purified astroglial filaments neither inhibit microtubule assembly nor show significant binding of MAPs. It is proposed that the MAPs might function as one element in a network of intraorganellar links in the cytoplasm.

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