Occurrence of nuclear βII-tubulin in cultured cells

Consuelo Walss-Bass, Keliang Xu, Sebastien David, Arlette Fellous, Richard F. Ludueña

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Microtubules are cylindrical organelles that play critical roles in cell division. Their subunit protein, tubulin, is a target for various antitumor drugs. Tubulin exists as various forms, known as isotypes. In most normal cells, tubulin occurs only in the cytosol and not in the nucleus. However, we have recently reported the finding of the βII isotype of tubulin in the nuclei of cultured rat kidney mesangial cells. Mesangial cells, unlike most normal cell lines, have the ability to proliferate rapidly in culture. In efforts to determine whether nuclear βII-tubulin occurred in other cell lines, we examined the distribution of the βI, βII, and βIV mammalian tubulin isotypes in a variety of normal and cancer human cell lines by immunofluorescence microscopy. We have found that, in the normal cell lines, all three isotypes are present only in the cytoplasm. However, the βII isotype of tubulin is located not only in the cytoplasm, but also in the nuclei of the following cell lines: LNCaP prostate carcinoma, MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-435, and Calc 18 breast carcinoma, C6 and T98G glioma, and He-La cells. In contrast, the βI and βIV isotypes, which are also synthesized in cancer cells, are not localized to the nucleus but are restricted to the cytoplasm. We have also seen βII in breast cancer excisions. In most of these cells, βII appears to be concentrated in the nucleoli. These results suggest that transformation may lead to localization of βII-tubulin in cell nuclei, serving an as yet unknown function, and that nuclear βII may be a useful marker for detection of tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-223
Number of pages9
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell proliferation
  • Human
  • Immunofluorescence
  • Nuclear tubulin
  • Tubulin
  • Tubulin isotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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