Tubulin glycylases and glutamylases have distinct functions in stabilization and motility of ependymal cilia

J Cell Biol. 2013 Aug 5;202(3):441-51. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201305041. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


Microtubules are subject to a variety of posttranslational modifications that potentially regulate cytoskeletal functions. Two modifications, glutamylation and glycylation, are highly enriched in the axonemes of most eukaryotes, and might therefore play particularly important roles in cilia and flagella. Here we systematically analyze the dynamics of glutamylation and glycylation in developing mouse ependymal cilia and the expression of the corresponding enzymes in the brain. By systematically screening enzymes of the TTLL family for specific functions in ependymal cilia, we demonstrate that the glycylating enzymes TTLL3 and TTLL8 were required for stability and maintenance of ependymal cilia, whereas the polyglutamylase TTLL6 was necessary for coordinated beating behavior. Our work provides evidence for a functional separation of glutamylating and glycylating enzymes in mammalian ependymal cilia. It further advances the elucidation of the functions of tubulin posttranslational modifications in motile cilia of the mammalian brain and their potential importance in brain development and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cilia / enzymology*
  • Cilia / metabolism
  • Ependyma / cytology*
  • Ependyma / enzymology*
  • Ependyma / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Peptide Synthases / genetics
  • Peptide Synthases / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Tubulin
  • Peptide Synthases
  • TTLL6 protein, mouse
  • tubulin polyglutamylase