The cytoskeleton microtubule consists of polymerized αβ-tubulin dimers and plays essential roles in many cellular events. Reagents that inhibit microtubule behaviors have been developed as antifungal, antiparasitic, and anticancer drugs. Benzimidazole compounds, including thia-bendazole (TBZ), carbendazim (MBC), and nocodazole, are prevailing microtubule poisons that target β-tubulin and inhibit microtubule polymerization. The molecular basis, however, as to how the drug acts on β-tubulin remains controversial. Here, we characterize the S. pombe β-tubulin mutant nda3-TB101, which was previously isolated as a mutant resistance to benzimidazole. The mutation site tyrosine at position 50 is located in the interface of two lateral β-tubulin proteins and at the gate of a putative binging pocket for benzimidazole. Our observation revealed two properties of the mutant tubulin. First, the dynamics of cellular microtubules comprising the mutant β-tubulin were stabilized in the absence of benzimidazole. Second, the mutant protein reduced the affinity to ben-zimidazole in vitro. We therefore conclude that the mutant β-tubulin Nda3-TB101 exerts a dual effect on microtubule behaviors: the mutant β-tubulin stabilizes microtubules and is insensitive to benzimidazole drugs. This notion fine-tunes the current elusive molecular model regarding binding of benzimidazole to β-tubulin.
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