The assembly kinetics of microtubule protein are altered by ionic strength, temperature and Mg2+, but not by pH. High ionic strength (I0.2), low temperature (T less than 30 degrees C) and elevated Mg2+ (greater than or equal to 1.2 mM) induce a transition from biphasic to monophasic kinetics. Comparison of the activation energy obtained for the fast biphasic step at low ionic strength (I0.069) shows excellent agreement with the values obtained at high ionic strength, low temperature and elevated Mg2+. From this observation it can be implied that the tubulin-containing reactant of the fast biphasic event is also the species that elongates microtubules during monophasic assembly. Second-order rate constants for biphasic assembly are 3.82(+/- 0.72) x 10(7) M-1.s-1 and 5.19(+/- 1.25) x 10(6) M-1.s-1, and for monophasic assembly the rate constant is 2.12(+/- 0.56) x 10(7) M-1.s-1. The microtubule number concentration is constant during elongation of microtubules for biphasic and monophasic assembly.
- © 1987 London: The Biochemical Society