Polarized epithelial cells contain a characteristic array of microtubules in which non-centrosomal microtubules are aligned along the apical-to-basal axis of the cell with their minus ends oriented towards the apical pole. Although this unique orientation of microtubules was discovered in the late 1980s, how this orientation is established remains unresolved partly because of limited information about molecular factors that regulate the minus ends of non-centrosomal microtubules. Recent studies, however, identified novel minus end- associated proteins, revealing mechanisms by which the polarized arrays of microtubules are established in epithelial cells. These studies have also demonstrated the importance of apico-basally orientated microtubules in intra-structural organization of cells. This review focuses on recent progress of our understanding of the molecular basis for epithelium-specific microtubule assembly and function.
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