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Katanin is a heterodimeric microtubule (MT) severing protein that uses energy from ATP hydrolysis to generate internal breaks along MTs. Katanin p60, one of the two subunits, possesses ATPase and MT-binding/ severing activities, and the p 80 subunit is responsible for targeting of katanin to certain subcellular locations. In animals, katanin plays an important role in the release of MTs from their nucleation sites in the centrosome. It is also involved in severing MTs into smaller fragments which can serve as templates for further polymerization to increase MT number during meiotic and mitotic spindle assembly. Katanin homologs are present in a wide variety of plant species. The Arabidopsis katanin homolog has been shown to possess ATP-dependent MT severing activity in vitro and exhibit a punctate localization pattern at the cell cortex and the perinuclear region. Disruption of katanin functions by genetic mutations causes a delay in the disappearance of the perinuclear MT array and results in an aberrant organization of cortical MTs in elongating cells. Consequently, katanin mutations lead to defects in cell elongation, cellulose microfibril deposition, and hormonal responses. Studies of katanin in plants provide new insights into our understanding of its roles in cellular functions. © 2007 Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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Journal of Integrative Plant Biology

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