Microtubules are an important component of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton. Many cell movements are mediated by microtubule action, including the whipping of cilia and flagella, cytoplasmic transport of membrane vesicles, chromosome alignment during meiosis/mitosis, and nerve-cell axon migration. These movements result from competitive microtubule polymerization and depolymerization or through the actions of microtubule motor proteins.
Microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) bind to the tubulin subunits that make up microtubules to regulate their stability. A large variety of MAPs have been identified in many different cell types, and they have been found to carry out a wide range of functions. These include both stabilizing and destabilizing microtubules, guiding microtubules towards specific cellular locations, cross-linking microtubules and mediating the interactions of microtubules with other proteins in the cell.