Posttranslational Modifications of Tubulin and Cilia

Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
Dorota WlogaJacek Gaertig

Abstract

Tubulin undergoes several highly conserved posttranslational modifications (PTMs) including acetylation, detyrosination, glutamylation, and glycylation. These PTMs accumulate on a subset of microtubules that are long-lived, including those in the basal bodies and axonemes. Tubulin PTMs are distributed nonuniformly. In the outer doublet microtubules of the axoneme, the B-tubules are highly enriched in the detyrosinated, polyglutamylated, and polyglycylated tubulin, whereas the A-tubules contain mostly unmodified tubulin. The nonuniform patterns of tubulin PTMs may functionalize microtubules in a position-dependent manner. Recent studies indicate that tubulin PTMs contribute to the assembly, disassembly, maintenance, and motility of cilia. In particular, tubulin glutamylation has emerged as a key PTM that affects ciliary motility through regulation of axonemal dynein arms and controls the stability and length of the axoneme.

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