Functional Investigation of TUBB4A Variants Associated with Different Clinical Phenotypes

Mol Neurobiol. 2022 Aug;59(8):5056-5069. doi: 10.1007/s12035-022-02900-9. Epub 2022 Jun 6.


Dominant TUBB4A variants result in different phenotypes, including hypomyelination with atrophy of the basal ganglia and cerebellum (H-ABC), dystonia type 4 (DYT4), and isolated hypomyelination. Here, we report four new patients with a novel TUBB4A variant (p.K324T) and three new patients with previously reported variants (p.Q292K, p.V255I, p.E410K). The individual carrying the novel p.K324T variant exhibits epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS), while the other three have isolated hypomyelination phenotype. We also present a study of the cellular effects of TUBB4A variants responsible for H-ABC (p.D249N), DYT4 (p.R2G), a severe combined phenotype with combination of hypomyelination and EIMFS (p.K324T), and isolated hypomyelination (p.Q292K and p.E410K) on microtubule stability and dynamics, neurite outgrowth, dendritic spine development, and kinesin binding. Cellular-based assays reveal that all variants except p.R2G increase microtubule stability, decrease microtubule polymerization rates, reduce axonal outgrowth, and alter the density and shape of dendritic spines. We also find that the p.K324T and p.E410K variants perturb the binding of TUBB4A to KIF1A, a neuron-specific kinesin required for transport of synaptic vesicle precursors. Taken together, our data suggest that impaired microtubule stability and dynamics, defected axonal growth, and dendritic spine development form the common molecular basis of TUBB4A-related leukodystrophy. Impairment of TUBB4A binding to KIF1A is more likely to be involved in the isolated hypomyelination phenotype, which suggests that alterations in kinesin binding may cause different phenotypes. In conclusion, our study extends the spectrum of TUBB4A mutations and related phenotypes and provides insight into why different TUBB4A variants cause distinct clinical phenotypes.

Keywords: Dendritic spine; Epilepsy; Kinesin; Microtubule dynamic; TUBB4A.

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Kinesins*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Tubulin* / genetics
  • Tubulin* / metabolism


  • Tubulin
  • Kinesins