The relevance of modified tubulin antibodies to neuronal research

A component of chromatin, microtubules (MTs) are rope-like polymers of alpha and beta tubulin, found in practically all eukaryotic cells. Pioneering antibody research showed the tubulin subunits can undergo various post-translational modifications, to regulate MT function. Since then, the discovery of numerous modifying enzymes has enhanced our antibody catalog.

Microtubules are involved in many cellular processes throughout the body. In neurons, MTs play an active part in intracellular organization; axonal elongation; neurite branching; remodeling of dendritic spines; advance of the growth cone and transport of cargo molecules to pre- and post-synaptic domains. These, and many other functions, are regulated in two ways: the integration of alternative tubulin isoforms, and post-translational modifications (PTMs) of a/b-tubulin.

The first PTM to be discovered was acetylation, which until recently was mainly associated with the a-Tubulin Lysine 40 residue, where most MT/protein interactions take place. Others included detyrosination, D2-tubulin generation, glutamylation and glycylation. Early studies described the dynamics, incidence, and potential functions of these modifications. However, it has only been in recent times, with the discovery of tubulin-modifying enzymes, that scientists have been able to probe tubulin at a molecular level.

Neuroscientists now have access to a large antibody catalog to examine the role of tubulin PTMs in neuronal MT regulation, both independently and in combination. A recent hypothesis has suggested that PTM combinations may generate signals to basic and higher neuronal functions to create a readable MT code, similar to the histone code. Antibodies to downstream effectors would probably target proteins with roles in intracellular transport, neuronal differentiation and polarization.

Recent antibody studies have clarified the role that three key tubulin modifications play in regulating kinesin motor proteins and their cargoes along specific MT tracks. It is suggested all modifications share a common role within the cell, targeting motor proteins and MT-associated proteins (MAPs) to defined microtubule subsets. As one of the world’s leading antibody suppliers, we at Novus Biologicals have an extensive antibody database of tubulin research products.

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