Mar 30, 2020

Genetically encoded live cell sensor for tyrosinated microtubules

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Leslie Y BehMinhaj Sirajuddin


Microtubule cytoskeleton exists in various biochemical forms in different cells due to tubulin post-translational modification (PTMs). These PTMs are known to affect microtubule stability, dynamics and interaction with MAPs and motors in a specific manner, widely known as tubulin code hypothesis. At present there exist no tool that can specifically mark tubulin PTMs in live cells, thus severely limiting our understanding of tubulin PTMs. Using yeast display library, we identified a binder against terminal tyrosine of alpha tubulin, a unique PTM site. Extensive characterization validates the robustness and non-perturbing nature of our binder as tyrosination sensor, a live cell tubulin nanobody specific towards tyrosinated or unmodified microtubules. Using which, in real time we followed nocodazole, colchicine and vincristine induced depolymerization events of unmodified microtubules, and found each distinctly perturb microtubule polymer. Together, our work describes the tyrosination sensor and potential applications to study microtubule and PTM processes in living cells.

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