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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI Life Sciences


Fig.: Stefanie Scharf

Upcoming events

June 4, 2018

4:00 PM

Venue: IRI Life Sciences, Philippstr. 13, Building 18, 3rd Floor

Antonina Roll-Mecak

The tubulin code: How cells build specificity into their microtuble networks




Deceptively uniform ultrastructurally, microtubules bear a bewildering range of posttranslational modifications, including acetylation, detyrosination, phosphorylation, glutamylation and glycylation.  These vary widely between cell types and their patterns are stereotyped, suggesting roles in spatial and temporal control.  Microtubule modifications have thus been proposed to constitute a “tubulin code”, analogous to the histone code.  Disruption of tubulin modification levels and patterns leads to cancers, neuropathologies and defective axonal regeneration.  Although discovered over thirty years ago, an understanding of the roles of the chemical complexity of microtubules has remained elusive.  My laboratory aims to understand (i) the biochemical mechanisms of tubulin modification enzymes and how the complex patterns of tubulin posttranslational modifications observed in cells are generated by these enzyme families  (ii) the effects of tubulin posttranslational modifications on the basic properties of the microtubule polymer: its mechanical properties and dynamics and (iii) the effects of tubulin modifications on the recruitment and function of cellular effectors. We take a multifaceted experimental approach to answer these questions integrating structural biology and classic enzymology with single molecule biophysics, live cell imaging and modeling.