Tubulin proteomics: towards breaking the code

Anal Biochem. 2009 Jan 15;384(2):197-206. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2008.09.020. Epub 2008 Sep 18.


Since the discovery of tubulin as the major component of microtubules over 40 years ago, its diversity of forms has raised a continuum of fundamental questions about its regulation and functions in a variety of organisms across phyla. Its high abundance in the brain or in specialized organelles such as cilia has allowed early characterization of this important target for anticancer drugs. However, it was only when matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry technologies became available in the late 1980's that the full complexity of tubulin expression patterns became more obvious. This contributed in a major way to the idea that due to increasing and conserved tubulin heterogeneity during evolution, a tubulin code read by microtubule associated proteins might exist and be of functional significance. We review here the merging of recent genetic and cell biology studies with proteomics to decipher this code and illustrate some of the tubulin proteomic approaches with new data generated in our laboratories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Proteomics
  • Tubulin / genetics
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Tubulin