Bovine neurotubulin has been labeled with dichlorotriazinyl-aminofluorescein (DTAF-tubulin) and microinjected into cultured mammalian cells strains PTK1 and BSC. The fibrous, fluorescence patterns that developed in the microinjected cells were almost indistinguishable from the pattern of microtubules seen in the same cells by indirect immunofluorescence. DTAF-tubulin participated in the formation of all visible, microtubule-related structures at all cell cycle stages for at least 48 h after injection. Treatments of injected cells with Nocodazole or Taxol showed that DTAF-tubulin closely mimicked the behavior of endogenous tubulin. The rate at which microtubules incorporated DTAF-tubulin depended on the cell-cycle stage of the injected cell. Mitotic microtubules became fluorescent within seconds while interphase microtubules required minutes. Studies using fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching confirmed this apparent difference in tubulin dynamics between mitotic and interphase cells. The temporal patterns of redistribution included a rapid phase (approximately 3 s) that we attribute to diffusion of free DTAF-tubulin and a second, slower phase that seems to represent the exchange of bleached DTAF-tubulin in microtubules with free, unbleached DTAF-tubulin. Mean half times of redistribution were 18-fold shorter in mitotic cells than they were in interphase cells.

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