Doctoral thesis
Open access

Unraveling Microtubule Complexity through the Control of Post-Translational Modifications and Ionic Environment

Imprimatur date2024
Defense date2024

Microtubules are fundamental components of the cytoskeleton of the cell, formed by the assembly of αβ-tubulin heterodimers. The microtubule network is crucial for maintaining cell structure, enabling intracellular transport, and facilitating cell division. To face such diverse biological processes, cell must continuously reorganize their network by modulating dynamic features of microtubules.

The "Tubulin Code" is a term that regroups the complex interplay of cellular factors influencing microtubule properties. Among them, post-translational modifications (PTMs) ensure the specialization of the network by regulating interactions with microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). Due to the absence of adequate tools for exploring the regulation and functionality of these PTMs, the mechanisms governing the establishment of PTMs along the microtubule remain elusive. In the first part of this thesis, I introduce an innovative approach known as semi-synthetic tubulin, designed to decipher the molecular mechanisms underlying microtubule PTMs. With this novel technology, I reveal that a crosstalk exists between two microtubule PTMs, polyglutamylation and detyrosination. Moreover, I demonstrate that the detyrosinase activity of the tubulin tyrosine carboxypeptidase (vasohibin/SVBP) is enhanced by the extent of glutamylated chains present within the same microtubule structure.

Microtubule dynamics are also subjected to influences from their surrounding environment. Indeed, ions play a significant role in determining the fate of the polymerization reaction. However, the precise effect of certain monovalent ions on microtubule dynamics has not been explored yet. In the second part of this thesis, I show the divergent effect of sodium (Na+) and acetate (Ac-) on microtubule dynamics and integrity. While Na+ destabilizes the microtubule structure, Ac- promotes the maintenance of the microtubule architecture over time.

Taken together, these results provide a more detailed insight into the complexity of microtubule biochemistry. The semi-synthetic tubulin approach gives an innovative angle into the molecular investigation of the tubulin code, whereas the study of the ionic effect on microtubule assembly offers new insights on microtubule dynamics and integrity.

Research group
Citation (ISO format)
FERNANDES RIBEIRO DA SIL, Simao. Unraveling Microtubule Complexity through the Control of Post-Translational Modifications and Ionic Environment. 2024. doi: 10.13097/archive-ouverte/unige:177520
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Creation06/03/2024 8:25:11 AM
First validation06/03/2024 11:03:56 AM
Update time06/03/2024 11:03:56 AM
Status update06/03/2024 11:03:56 AM
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