Structural basis of protein condensation on microtubules underlying branching microtubule nucleation

Changmiao Guo, Raymundo Alfaro-Aco, Chunting Zhang, Ryan W. Russell, Sabine Petry, Tatyana Polenova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Targeting protein for Xklp2 (TPX2) is a key factor that stimulates branching microtubule nucleation during cell division. Upon binding to microtubules (MTs), TPX2 forms condensates via liquid-liquid phase separation, which facilitates recruitment of microtubule nucleation factors and tubulin. We report the structure of the TPX2 C-terminal minimal active domain (TPX2α5-α7) on the microtubule lattice determined by magic-angle-spinning NMR. We demonstrate that TPX2α5-α7 forms a co-condensate with soluble tubulin on microtubules and binds to MTs between two adjacent protofilaments and at the intersection of four tubulin heterodimers. These interactions stabilize the microtubules and promote the recruitment of tubulin. Our results reveal that TPX2α5-α7 is disordered in solution and adopts a folded structure on MTs, indicating that TPX2α5-α7 undergoes structural changes from unfolded to folded states upon binding to microtubules. The aromatic residues form dense interactions in the core, which stabilize folding of TPX2α5-α7 on microtubules. This work informs on how the phase-separated TPX2α5-α7 behaves on microtubules and represents an atomic-level structural characterization of a protein that is involved in a condensate on cytoskeletal filaments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3682
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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