Protein concentration gradients pattern developing organisms and single cells. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe rod-shaped cells, Pom1 kinase forms gradients with maxima at cell poles. Pom1 controls the timing of mitotic entry by inhibiting Cdr2, which forms stable membrane-associated nodes at mid-cell. Pom1 gradients rely on membrane association regulated by a phosphorylation-dephosphorylation cycle and lateral diffusion modulated by clustering. Using quantitative PALM imaging, we find individual Pom1 molecules bind the membrane too transiently to diffuse from pole to mid-cell. Instead we propose they exchange within longer-lived clusters forming the functional gradient unit. An allelic series blocking auto-phosphorylation shows multi-phosphorylation shapes and buffers the gradient to control mid-cell levels, which represent the critical Cdr2-regulating pool. TIRF imaging of this cortical pool demonstrates more Pom1 overlaps with Cdr2 in short than long cells, consistent with Pom1 inhibition of Cdr2 decreasing with cell growth. Thus, the gradients modulate Pom1 mid-cell levels according to cell size.
All data generated during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Suliana Manley
- Sophie G Martin
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Mohan K Balasubramanian, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
© 2019, Gerganova et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Heterozygous, missense mutations in α- or β-tubulin genes are associated with a wide range of human brain malformations, known as tubulinopathies. We seek to understand whether a mutation’s impact at the molecular and cellular levels scale with the severity of brain malformation. Here, we focus on two mutations at the valine 409 residue of TUBA1A, V409I, and V409A, identified in patients with pachygyria or lissencephaly, respectively. We find that ectopic expression of TUBA1A-V409I/A mutants disrupt neuronal migration in mice and promote excessive neurite branching and a decrease in the number of neurite retraction events in primary rat neuronal cultures. These neuronal phenotypes are accompanied by increased microtubule acetylation and polymerization rates. To determine the molecular mechanisms, we modeled the V409I/A mutants in budding yeast and found that they promote intrinsically faster microtubule polymerization rates in cells and in reconstitution experiments with purified tubulin. In addition, V409I/A mutants decrease the recruitment of XMAP215/Stu2 to plus ends in budding yeast and ablate tubulin binding to TOG (tumor overexpressed gene) domains. In each assay tested, the TUBA1A-V409I mutant exhibits an intermediate phenotype between wild type and the more severe TUBA1A-V409A, reflecting the severity observed in brain malformations. Together, our data support a model in which the V409I/A mutations disrupt microtubule regulation typically conferred by XMAP215 proteins during neuronal morphogenesis and migration, and this impact on tubulin activity at the molecular level scales with the impact at the cellular and tissue levels.
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