Post-translational regulation of the microtubule cytoskeleton: mechanisms and functions

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Nov 16;12(12):773-86. doi: 10.1038/nrm3227.


Half a century of biochemical and biophysical experiments has provided attractive models that may explain the diverse functions of microtubules within cells and organisms. However, the notion of functionally distinct microtubule types has not been explored with similar intensity, mostly because mechanisms for generating divergent microtubule species were not yet known. Cells generate distinct microtubule subtypes through expression of different tubulin isotypes and through post-translational modifications, such as detyrosination and further cleavage to Δ2-tubulin, acetylation, polyglutamylation and polyglycylation. The recent discovery of enzymes responsible for many tubulin post-translational modifications has enabled functional studies demonstrating that these post-translational modifications may regulate microtubule functions through an amazing range of mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Tubulin / chemistry
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Tubulin
  • Tyrosine