Several high molecular weight polypeptides have been shown to quantitatively copurify with brain tubulin during cycles of in vitro assembly-disassembly. These microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) have been shown to influence the rate and extent of microtubule assembly in vitro. We report here that a heat-stable fraction highly enriched for one of the MAPs, MAP2 (mol wt approximately 300,000 daltons), devoid of MAP1 (mol wt approximately 350,000 daltons), has been purified from calf neurotubules. This MAP2 fraction stoichiometrically promotes microtubule assembly, lowering the critical concentration for tubulin assembly to 0.05 mg/ml. Microtubules saturated with MAP2 contain MAP2 and tubulin in a molar ratio of approximately 1 mole of MAP2 to 9 moles of tubulin dimer. Electron microscopy of thin sections of the MAP2-saturated microtubules fixed in the presence of tannic acid demonstrates a striking axial periodicity of 32 +/- 8 nm.

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