The ins and outs of tubulin acetylation: more than just a post-translational modification?

Cell Signal. 2011 May;23(5):763-71. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2010.10.014. Epub 2010 Oct 19.


Microtubules are highly dynamic polymers of α/β tubulin heterodimers that play key roles in cell division and in organizing cell cytoplasm. Although they have been discovered more than two decades ago, tubulin post-translational modifications recently gained a new interest as their role was increasingly highlighted in neuron differentiation and neurodegenerative disorders. Here, we specifically focus on tubulin acetylation from its discovery to recent studies that provide new insights into how it is regulated in health and disease and how it impacts microtubule functions. Even though new mechanisms involving tubulin acetylation are regularly being uncovered, the molecular links between its location inside the microtubule lumen and its regulators and effectors is still poorly understood. This review highlights the emerging roles of tubulin acetylation in multiple cellular functions, ranging from cell motility, cell cycle progression or cell differentiation to intracellular trafficking and signalling. It also points out that tubulin acetylation should no longer be seen as a passive marker of microtubule stability, but as a broad regulator of microtubule functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurogenesis
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Tubulin / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / physiology


  • Tubulin