Tuesday, April 3, 2018

TUBA1A mutations

Inspired by a patient

Belvindrah R, Natarajan K, Shabajee P, Bruel-Jungerman E, Bernard J, Goutierre M, Moutkine I, Jaglin XH, Savariradjane M, Irinopoulou T, Poncer JC, Janke C, Francis F. Mutation of the α-tubulin Tuba1a leads to straighter microtubules and perturbs neuronal migration. J Cell Biol. 2017 Aug 7;216(8):2443-2461.

Brain development involves extensive migration of neurons. Microtubules (MTs) are key cellular effectors of neuronal displacement that are assembled from α/β-tubulin heterodimers. Mutation of the α-tubulin isotype TUBA1A is associated with cortical malformations in humans. In this study, we provide detailed in vivo and in vitro analyses of Tuba1a mutants. In mice carrying a Tuba1a missense mutation (S140G), neurons accumulate, and glial cells are dispersed along the rostral migratory stream in postnatal and adult brains. Live imaging of Tuba1a-mutant neurons revealed slowed migration and increased neuronal branching, which correlated with directionality alterations and perturbed nucleus-centrosome (N-C) coupling. Tuba1a mutation led to increased straightness of newly polymerized MTs, and structural modeling data suggest a conformational change in the α/β-tubulin heterodimer. We show that Tuba8, another α-tubulin isotype previously associated with cortical malformations, has altered function compared with Tuba1a. Our work shows that Tuba1a plays an essential, noncompensated role in neuronal saltatory migration in vivo and highlights the importance of MT flexibility in N-C coupling and neuronal-branching regulation during neuronal migration.

Aiken J, Buscaglia G, Bates EA, Moore JK. The α-Tubulin gene TUBA1A in Brain Development: A Key Ingredient in the Neuronal Isotype Blend. J Dev Biol. 2017 Sep;5(3).

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.

Mencarelli A, Prontera P, Stangoni G, Mencaroni E, Principi N, Esposito S. Epileptogenic Brain Malformations and Mutations in Tubulin Genes: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Oct 29;18(11).

Malformations of the cerebral cortex are an important cause of developmental disabilities and epilepsy. Neurological disorders caused by abnormal neuronal migration have been observed to occur with mutations in tubulin genes. The α- and β-tubulin genes encode cytoskeletal proteins, which play a role in the developing brain. TUBA1A mutations are associated with a wide spectrum of neurological problems, which are characterized by peculiar clinical details and neuroradiologic patterns. This manuscript describes the case of a nine-year-old girl with microcephaly, mild facial dysmorphisms, epileptic seizures, and severe developmental delay, with a de novo heterozygous c.320A>G [p.(His 107 Arg)] mutation in TUBA1A gene, and the clinical aspects and neuroimaging features of "lissencephaly syndrome" are summarized. This case shows that TUBA1A mutations lead to a variety of brain malformations ranging from lissencephaly with perisylvian pachygyria to diffuse posteriorly predominant pachygyria, combined with internal capsule dysgenesis, cerebellar dysplasia, and callosal hypotrophy. This peculiar neuroradiological pattern, in combination with the usually severe clinical presentation, suggests the need for future molecular studies to address the mechanisms of TUBA1A mutation-induced neuropathology.

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