Microtubules and neurodevelopmental disease: the movers and the makers

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014:800:75-96. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-7687-6_5.


The development of the mammalian cortex requires the generation, migration and differentiation of neurons. Each of these cellular events requires a dynamic microtubule cytoskeleton. Microtubules are required for interkinetic nuclear migration, the separation of chromatids in mitosis, nuclear translocation during migration and the outgrowth of neurites. Their importance is underlined by the finding that mutations in a host of microtubule associated proteins cause detrimental neurological disorders. More recently, the structural subunits of microtubules, the tubulin proteins, have been implicated in a spectrum of human diseases collectively known as the tubulinopathies. This chapter reviews the discovery of microtubules, the role they play in neurodevelopment, and catalogues the tubulin isoforms associated with neurodevelopmental disease. Our focus is on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the pathology of tubulin-associated diseases. Finally, we reflect on whether different tubulin genes have distinct intrinsic functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / genetics
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / genetics
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Neurites / metabolism*
  • Neurites / pathology
  • Tubulin / genetics
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Tubulin