Microtubules are hollow cylinders, 25nm in diameter, consisting primarily of the protein tubulin. They are a major constituent of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton and are involved in cell shape, motility, and division. These multiple activities are typically carried out by multiple "arrays" of microtubules. So the cytoskeleton, despite the term's connotation, is quite dynamic rather than static. Generally, this is due to the dynamic activity of microtubules insofar as they depolymerize and repolymerize from tubulin monomer present in cells' cytoplasm. Nonetheless, the overall integrity of arrays is remarkably ordered by interactions among microtubules and with other cellular structures. Many of these interactions are mediated by structural, non-tubulin molecules termed microtubule-associated proteins, or MAPs. My Ph.D. project required pioneering work in plant MAPs. In my postdoctoral work, I have begun investigating plant microtubule-organizing centers, or MTOCs - prominent cellular entities at which the MTs of an array appear to terminate/originate (e.g., centrosomes and spindle poles, blepharoplasts, basal bodies). Both MAPs and MTOCs, through their relationship with MTs, play fundamental roles in the cytoskeleton and, therefore, general cellular activities.
Though a relatively extensive knowledge of non-plant MAPs and MTOCs is available, its fruitful application to plantae using biochemical, immunocytochemical, and molecular genetics has been limited in value. For MAP studies, I used biochemical and cell biological approaches adapted for diminishing problems particular to plant cells.