Tubulins and brain development – The origins of functional specification

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The development of the vertebrate central nervous system is reliant on a complex cascade of biological processes that include mitotic division, relocation of migrating neurons, and the extension of dendritic and axonal processes. Each of these cellular events requires the diverse functional repertoire of the microtubule cytoskeleton for the generation of forces, assembly of macromolecular complexes and transport of molecules and organelles. The tubulins are a multi-gene family that encode for the constituents of microtubules, and have been implicated in a spectrum of neurological disorders. Evidence is building that different tubulins tune the functional properties of the microtubule cytoskeleton dependent on the cell type, developmental profile and subcellular localisation. Here we review of the origins of the functional specification of the tubulin gene family in the developing brain at a transcriptional, translational, and post-transcriptional level. We remind the reader that tubulins are not just loading controls for your average Western blot.

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