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Cells. 2019 Oct 22;8(10). pii: E1294. doi: 10.3390/cells8101294.

Tubulin: Structure, Functions and Roles in Disease.

Author information

1
Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Vídeňská 1083, Prague 142 20, Czech Republic. binarova@biomed.cas.cz.
2
DIMEAS, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy. jack.tuszynski@gmail.com.
3
Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Cross Cancer Institute, 11560 University Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6G 1Z2, Canada. jack.tuszynski@gmail.com.

Abstract

Highly conserved α- and β-tubulin heterodimers assemble into dynamic microtubules and perform multiple important cellular functions such as structural support, pathway for transport and force generation in cell division. Tubulin exists in different forms of isotypes expressed by specific genes with spatially- and temporally-regulated expression levels. Some tubulin isotypes are differentially expressed in normal and neoplastic cells, providing a basis for cancer chemotherapy drug development. Moreover, specific tubulin isotypes are overexpressed and localized in the nuclei of cancer cells and/or show bioenergetic functions through the regulation of the permeability of mitochondrial ion channels. It has also become clear that tubulin isotypes are involved in multiple cellular functions without being incorporated into microtubule structures. Understanding the mutations of tubulin isotypes specifically expressed in tumors and their post-translational modifications might help to identify precise molecular targets for the design of novel anti-microtubular drugs. Knowledge of tubulin mutations present in tubulinopathies brings into focus cellular functions of tubulin in brain pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease. Uncovering signaling pathways which affect tubulin functions during antigen-mediated activation of mast cells presents a major challenge in developing new strategies for the treatment of inflammatory and allergic diseases. γ-tubulin, a conserved member of the eukaryotic tubulin superfamily specialized for microtubule nucleation is a target of cell cycle and stress signaling. Besides its microtubule nucleation role, γ-tubulin functions in nuclear and cell cycle related processes. This special issue "Tubulin: Structure, Functions and Roles in Disease" contains eight articles, five of which are original research papers and three are review papers that cover diverse areas of tubulin biology and functions under normal and pathological conditions.

KEYWORDS:

cancer regulation; chemotherapy drugs; isoforms; microtubules; tubulin

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