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Biol Cell. 1989;65(2):109-17.

Posttranslational modifications of tubulin in cultured mouse brain neurons and astroglia.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biochimie Cellulaire, Collège de France, Paris, France.


Posttranslational modifications of tubulin were analyzed in mouse brain neurons and glia developing in culture. Purified tubulin was resolved by isoelectric focusing. After 3 weeks of culture, neurons were shown to express a high degree of tubulin heterogeneity (8 alpha and 10 beta isoforms), similar to that found in the brain at the same developmental stage. Astroglial tubulin exhibits a less complex pattern consisting of 4 alpha and 4 beta isoforms. After incubation of neuronal and glial cells with 3H-acetate in the presence of cycloheximide, a major posttranslational label was found associated with alpha-tubulin and a minor one with beta-tubulin. The acetate-labeled isotubulins of neurons were resolved by isoelectric focusing into as many as 6 alpha and 7 beta isoforms, while those of astroglia were resolved into only 2 alpha and 2 beta isoforms. The same alpha isoforms were also shown to react with a monoclonal antibody recognizing selectively the acetylated form(s) of alpha-tubulin. Whether acetate-labeling of alpha-tubulin in these cells corresponds to the acetylation of Lys40, as reported for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, is discussed according to very recent data obtained by protein sequence analysis. Tubulin phosphorylation was analyzed by incubation of cell cultures with 32PO4. No phosphorylation of alpha-tubulin isoforms was detected. A single beta-tubulin isoform (beta'2), expressed only in neurons, was found to be phosphorylated. This isoform is similar to that previously identified in differentiated mouse neuroblastoma cells.

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