Assembly and disassembly of axonal microtubules of the toad Xenopus laevis under the effect of temperature

Author: Alvarez, J.; Fadic, R.

Description: In toads Xenopus laevis living at 11 degrees (winter), the microtubular density of 4-microns myelinated axons of lumbosacral nerves was assessed with the electron microscope. In controls, the density was 11.2 microtubules/microns2. In nerves incubated at 0 degrees, microtubules decreased following a simple exponential curve with a half time of 4.7 min (k = 0.149 min-1); residual microtubules were 4.5%. After rewarming, the full complement of microtubules reappeared within 60 min. In steady state, the microtubular density exhibited a linear relationship with temperature (range: 0-22 degrees; slope 0.94 microtubules/microns 2 per degree; r, 0.96). After heating the nerve by 11 degrees above the physiological temperature, microtubules increased by 83%, whereby the pool of unpolymerized tubulin was at least 2.7 mg/ml of axoplasm. A seasonal variation of the microtubular density was observed which accorded with the environmental temperature. The macroscopic kinetics of microtubule disassembly in the axoplasm is similar to that reported for purified tubulin but that of assembly is slower. Microtubules of peripheral axons of Xenopus are cold-labile and vary during the annual cycle.

Subject headings: Animals; Axons/physiology; Cytoplasm/metabolism; Kinetics; Microtubules/physiology; Seasons; Temperature; Tubulin/metabolism; Xenopus laevis

Publication year: 1992

Journal or book title: The Journal of Experimental Zoology

Volume: 264

Issue: 3

Pages: 261-266

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 1174