Investigating the impact of the phosphorylation status of tyrosine residues within the TACC domain of TACC3 on microtubule behavior during axon growth and guidance

Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 2020 Jul;77(7):277-291. doi: 10.1002/cm.21622. Epub 2020 Jul 6.


Axon guidance is a critical process in forming the connections between a neuron and its target. The growth cone steers the growing axon toward the appropriate direction by integrating extracellular guidance cues and initiating intracellular signal transduction pathways downstream of these cues. The growth cone generates these responses by remodeling its cytoskeletal components. Regulation of microtubule dynamics within the growth cone is important for making guidance decisions. TACC3, as a microtubule plus-end binding (EB) protein, modulates microtubule dynamics during axon outgrowth and guidance. We have previously shown that Xenopus laevis embryos depleted of TACC3 displayed spinal cord axon guidance defects, while TACC3-overexpressing spinal neurons showed increased resistance to Slit2-induced growth cone collapse. Tyrosine kinases play an important role in relaying guidance signals to downstream targets during pathfinding events via inducing tyrosine phosphorylation. Here, in order to investigate the mechanism behind TACC3-mediated axon guidance, we examined whether tyrosine residues that are present in TACC3 have any role in regulating TACC3's interaction with microtubules or during axon outgrowth and guidance behaviors. We find that the phosphorylatable tyrosines within the TACC domain are important for the microtubule plus-end tracking behavior of TACC3. Moreover, TACC domain phosphorylation impacts axon outgrowth dynamics such as growth length and growth persistency. Together, our results suggest that tyrosine phosphorylation of TACC3 affects TACC3's microtubule plus-end tracking behavior as well as its ability to mediate axon growth dynamics in cultured embryonic neural tube explants.

Keywords: +TIPs; Abelson kinase; TACC3; axon guidance; growth cone; microtubule; tyrosine phosphorylation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Axon Guidance / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • TACC3 protein, human
  • Tyrosine