Microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) from calf brain were fluorescently labeled with 6-iodoacetamido fluorescein (I-AF). The modified MAPs (especially enriched for MAP2) were fully active in promoting tubulin polymerization in vitro and readily associated with cytoplasmic filaments when microinjected into living cultured cells. Double-labeling experiments indicated that the microinjected AF-MAPs were incorporated predominantly, if not exclusively, into cytoplasmic microtubules in untreated cells or paracrystals induced within vinblastine-treated cells. Similar results were obtained with different cell types (neuronal, epithelial, and fibroblastic) of diverse origin (man, mouse, chicken, and rat kangaroo). Mobility measurements of the microinjected AF-MAPs using the method of fluorescence-photobleaching recovery (FPR) revealed two populations of AF-MAPs with distinct dynamic properties: One fraction represents the soluble pool of MAPs and is mobile with a diffusion coefficient of D = 3 X 10(-9) cm2/s. The other fraction of MAPs is associated with the microtubules and is essentially immobile on the time scale of FPR experiments. However, it showed slow fluorescence recovery with an apparent half time of approximately 5 min. The slow recovery of fluorescence on defined photobleached microtubules occurred most probably by the incorporation of AF-MAPs from the soluble cytoplasmic pool into the bleached area. The bleached spot on defined microtubules remained essentially immobile during the slow recovery phase. These results suggest that MAPs can associate in vivo with microtubules of diverse cell types and that treadmilling of MAP2-containing microtubules in vivo, if it exists, is slower than 4 micron/h.

This content is only available as a PDF.