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Mol Cell. 2007 May 11;26(3):437-48.

A targeted multienzyme mechanism for selective microtubule polyglutamylation.

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CRBM, CNRS, 34293 Montpellier, France.


Polyglutamylases are enzymes that form polyglutamate side chains of variable lengths on proteins. Polyglutamylation of tubulin is believed to regulate interactions of microtubules (MTs) with MT-associated proteins and molecular motors. Subpopulations of MTs are differentially polyglutamylated, yet only one modifying enzyme has been discovered in mammals. In an attempt to better understand the heterogeneous appearance of tubulin polyglutamylation, we searched for additional enzymes and report here the identification of six mammalian polyglutamylases. Each of them has a characteristic mode of catalysis and generates distinct patterns of modification on MTs, which can be further diversified by cooperation of multiple enzymes. Polyglutamylases are restricted to confined tissues and subtypes of MTs by differential expression and localization. In conclusion, we propose a multienzyme mechanism of polyglutamylation that can explain how the diversity of polyglutamylation on selected types of MTs is controlled at the molecular level.

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