Microtubules (MT) are important for cell behavior and maintenance, yet the factors regulating MT assembly in vivo remain obscure. In a biochemical search, we have isolated a small (4.7 kDa) acidic, phosphorylated polypeptide, which we named MINUS (microtubule nucleation suppressor) for its activity to inhibit MT nucleation [P. Fanara, B. Oback, K. Ashman, A. Podtelejnikov, R. Brandt, EMBO J. 18 (1999) 565]. Here, the purification strategy was optimized and the polypeptide purified to homogeneity from bovine brain, Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans and yeast. Amino acid analysis showed similar composition of MINUS from different species. In particular, MINUS was rich in glycine, threonine, isoleucine, leucine and acidic amino acids. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry revealed a large peak for phosphorus confirming its identity as a phosphopeptide. For further purification, MINUS was separated as a single peak on reverse phase-HPLC (RP-HPLC). Preliminary sequence analysis suggested MINUS to be N-terminally blocked. However, conventional enzymatic digestions did not reveal differences in the peak profile compared to undigested MINUS. Hence, partial acid hydrolysis and proteinase K digestion was performed followed by RP-HPLC. The proteinase K digested peaks were subjected to Edman degradation (first peak, ser-pro-ser/gly-ser; second peak, tyr/arg-leu), mass spectrometry (no result) and MALDI analysis (no result). Collectively, the data suggest that MINUS belongs to a new class of MT assembly regulators. Sequence information and antibody development will be useful to examine its biological role in a definitive manner.