The existence of gamma-tubulin was first reported approximately ten years ago, and it is appropriate to review the progress that has been made in gamma-tubulin research and to discuss some of the unanswered questions about gamma-tubulin function. gamma-Tubulin is ubiquitous in eukaryotes and is generally quite conserved. Two highly divergent gamma-tubulins have been discovered, however, one in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and one in Caenorhabditis elegans. Several organisms have two gamma-tubulin genes. In Drosophila melanogaster, the two gamma-tubulins differ significantly in sequence and expression pattern. In other organisms the two gamma-tubulins are almost identical and expression patterns have not been determined. gamma-Tubulin is located at microtubule organizing centers in many organisms, and it is also frequently associated with the mitotic spindle. gamma-Tubulin is essential for the formation of functional mitotic spindles in all organisms that have been examined to date. In animal cells, complexes containing gamma-tubulin are located at microtubule organizing centers where they nucleate the assembly of microtubules. In spite of the considerable progress that has been made in gamma-tubulin research important questions remain to be answered. The exact mechanisms of microtubule nucleation by gamma-tubulin complexes remain to be resolved as do the mechanisms by which microtubule nucleation from gamma-tubulin complexes is regulated. Finally, there is evidence that gamma-tubulin has important functions in addition to microtubule nucleation, and these functions are just beginning to be investigated.
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