Mobility of taxol inside microtubules was investigated using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching on flow-aligned bundles. Bundles were made of microtubules with either GMPCPP or GTP at the exchangeable site on the tubulin dimer. Recovery times were sensitive to bundle thickness and packing, indicating that taxol molecules are able to move laterally through the bundle. The density of open binding sites along a microtubule was varied by controlling the concentration of taxol in solution for GMPCPP samples. With >63% sites occupied, recovery times were independent of taxol concentration and, therefore, inversely proportional to the microscopic dissociation rate, koff. It was found that 10 koffGMPCPP ≈ koffGTp, consistent with, but not fully accounting for, the difference in equilibrium constants for taxol on GMPCPP and GTP microtubules. With <63% sites occupied, recovery times decreased as ∼[Tax]-1/5 for both types of microtubules. We conclude that the diffusion of taxol inside the microtubule bundle is hindered by rebinding events when open sites are within ∼7 nm of each other.
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