Microtubule structure at 8 Å resolution

Huilin Li, David J. DeRosier, William V. Nicholson, Eva Nogales, Kenneth H. Downing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

343 Citations (Scopus)


We have obtained a 3D reconstruction of intact microtubules, using cryoelectron microscopy and image processing, at a resolution of about 8 Å, sufficient to resolve much of the secondary structure. The level of detail in the map allows docking of the tubulin structure previously determined by electron crystallography, with very strong constraints, providing several important insights not previously available through docking tubulin into lower-resolution maps. This work provides an improved picture of the interactions between adjacent protofilaments, which are responsible for microtubule stability, and also suggests that some structural features are different in microtubules from those in the zinc sheets with which the tubulin structure was determined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1328
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • microtubules
  • electron crystallography
  • Protein structure
  • dynamic instability


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