Taxol has two obvious effects in cells. It stabilizes microtubules and it induces microtubule bundling. We have duplicated the microtubule-bundling effect of taxol in vitro and report preliminary characterization of this bundling using electron microscopy, sedimentation, and electrophoretic analyses. Taxol-bundled microtubules from rat brain crude extracts were seen as massive bundles by electron microscopy. Bundled microtubules sedimented through sucrose five times faster than control microtubules. Electrophoretic analysis of control and taxol-bundled microtubules pelleted through sucrose revealed no striking differences between the two samples except for a protein doublet of approximately 100,000 daltons. Taxol-induced microtubule bundling was not produced by using pure tubulin or recycled microtubule protein; this suggested that taxol-induced microtubule bundling was mediated by a factor present in rat brain crude extracts. Taxol cross-linked rat brain crude extract microtubules were entirely labile to ATP in the millimolar range. This ATP-dependent relaxation was also demonstrated in a more purified system, using taxol-bundled microtubules pelleted through sucrose and gently resuspended. Although the bundling factor did not recycle with microtubule protein, it was apparently retained on isolated taxol-stabilized microtubules. The bundling factor was salt extracted from taxol-stabilized microtubules and its retained activity was demonstrated in an add-back experiment with assembled phosphocellulose-purified tubulin.

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