Heterozygous, missense mutations in a- or b-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 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.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting file; Source Data files have been provided.
- Katelyn J Hoff
- Santos J Franco
- Santos J Franco
- Santos J Franco
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Animals were housed and maintained according to protocols (#00019) approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (PHS Animal Assurance of Compliance #D16-00171). All surgeries were performed under inhaled vaporized isoflurane anesthesia with pre- and post-operative analgesic (meloxicam). Every effort was made to minimize pain and suffering.
- Kassandra M Ori-McKenney, University of California, United States
© 2022, Hoff 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.
Microtubule asters are essential in localizing the action of microtubules in processes including mitosis and organelle positioning. In large cells, such as the one-cell sea urchin embryo, aster dynamics are dominated by hydrodynamic pulling forces. However, in systems with more densely positioned nuclei such as the early Drosophila embryo, which packs around 6000 nuclei within the syncytium in a crystalline-like order, it is unclear what processes dominate aster dynamics. Here, we take advantage of a cell cycle regulation Drosophila mutant to generate embryos with multiple asters, independent from nuclei. We use an ex vivo assay to further simplify this biological system to explore the forces generated by and between asters. Through live imaging, drug and optical perturbations, and theoretical modeling, we demonstrate that these asters likely generate an effective pushing force over short distances.
Although most species have two sexes, multisexual (or multi-mating type) species are also widespread. However, it is unclear how mating-type recognition is achieved at the molecular level in multisexual species. The unicellular ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila has seven mating types, which are determined by the MTA and MTB proteins. In this study, we found that both proteins are essential for cells to send or receive complete mating-type information, and transmission of the mating-type signal requires both proteins to be expressed in the same cell. We found that MTA and MTB form a mating-type recognition complex that localizes to the plasma membrane, but not to the cilia. Stimulation experiments showed that the mating-type-specific regions of MTA and MTB mediate both self- and non-self-recognition, indicating that T. thermophila uses a dual approach to achieve mating-type recognition. Our results suggest that MTA and MTB form an elaborate multifunctional protein complex that can identify cells of both self and non-self mating types in order to inhibit or activate mating, respectively.