We used immunofluorescent microscopy to characterize microtubule (MT) architecture in wild-type and mutant protoplasts of Aspergillus nidulans at interphase and at mitosis. Because the visualization of MTs by immunofluorescence is technically difficult in intact hyphae of A. nidulans, we developed a method for removing the cell wall under conditions that do not perturb cell physiology, as evidenced by the fact that the resulting protoplasts undergo nuclear division at a normal rate and that cell cycle mutant phenotypes are expressed at restrictive temperature. Interphase cells exhibited an extensive network of cytoplasmic MTs. During mitosis the cytoplasmic MTs mostly disappeared and an intranuclear mitotic spindle appeared. We have previously shown that the benA 33 beta-tubulin mutation causes hyperstabilization of the mitotic spindle, and we have presented additional indirect evidence that suggested that the tubA1 and tubA4 alpha-tubulin mutations destabilize spindle MTs. In this paper, we show that the benA33 mutation increases the stability of cytoplasmic MTs as well as spindle MTs and that the tubA1 and tubA4 mutations destabilize both spindle and cytoplasmic MTs.

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