Centrosomes are critical for the nucleation and organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton during both interphase and cell division. Using antibodies raised against sea urchin sperm flagellar microtubule proteins, we characterize here the presence and behavior of certain components associated with centrosomes of the surf clam Spisula solidissima and cultured mammalian cells. A Sarkosyl detergent-resistant fraction of axonemal microtubules was isolated from sea urchin sperm flagella and used to produce monoclonal antibodies, 16 of which were specific- or cross-specific for the major polypeptides associated with this microtubule fraction: tektins A, B and C, acetylated alpha-tubulin, and 77 and 83 kDa polypeptides. By 2-D isoelectric focussing/SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis the tektins separate into several polypeptide spots. Identical spots were recognized by monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies against a given tektin, indicating that the different polypeptide spots are isoforms or modified versions of the same protein. Four independently derived monoclonal anti-tektins were found to stain centrosomes of S. solidissima oocytes and CHO and HeLa cells, by immunofluorescence microscopy. In particular, the centrosome staining of one monoclonal antibody specific for tektin B (tekB3) was cell-cycle-dependent for CHO cells, i.e. staining was observed only from early prometaphase until late anaphase. By immuno-electron microscopy tekB3 specifically labeled material surrounding the centrosome, whereas a polyclonal anti-tektin B recognized centrioles as well as the centrosomal material throughout the cell cycle. Finally, by immunoblot analysis tekB3 stained polypeptides of 48–50 kDa in isolated spindles and centrosomes from CHO cells.

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