Microtubules are dynamic cytoskeletal polymers that mediate numerous, essential functions such as axon and dendrite growth and neuron migration throughout brain development. In recent years, sequencing has revealed dominant mutations that disrupt the tubulin protein building blocks of microtubules. These tubulin mutations lead to a spectrum of devastating brain malformations, complex neurological and physical phenotypes, and even fatality. The most common tubulin gene mutated is the α-tubulin gene TUBA1A, which is the most prevalent α-tubulin gene expressed in post-mitotic neurons. The normal role of TUBA1A during neuronal maturation, and how mutations alter its function to produce the phenotypes observed in patients, remains unclear. This review synthesizes current knowledge of TUBA1A function and expression during brain development, and the brain malformations caused by mutations in TUBA1A.
Keywords: TUBA1A; lissencephaly; microtubule; neurodevelopment; polymicrogyria; tubulinopathy.