Moonlighting microtubule-associated proteins: Regulatory functions by day and pathological functions at night

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

14 Citations (Scopus)


The sensing, integrating, and coordinating features of the eukaryotic cells are achieved by the complex ultrastructural arrays and multifarious functions of the cytoskeletal network. Cytoskeleton comprises fibrous protein networks of microtubules, actin, and intermediate filaments. These filamentous polymer structures are highly dynamic and undergo constant and rapid reorganization during cellular processes. The microtubular system plays a crucial role in the brain, as it is involved in an enormous number of cellular events including cell differentiation and pathological inclusion formation. These multifarious functions of microtubules can be achieved by their decoration with proteins/enzymes that exert specific effects on the dynamics and organization of the cytoskeleton and mediate distinct functions due to their moonlighting features. This mini-review focuses on two aspects of the microtubule cytoskeleton. On the one hand, we describe the heteroassociation of tubulin/microtubules with metabolic enzymes, which in addition to their catalytic activities stabilize microtubule structures via their cross-linking functions. On the other hand, we focus on the recently identified moonlighting tubulin polymerization promoting protein, TPPP/p25. TPPP/p25 is a microtubule-associated protein and it displays distinct physiological or pathological (aberrant) functions; thus it is a prototype of Neomorphic Moonlighting Proteins. The expression of TPPP/p25 is finely controlled in the human brain; this protein is indispensable for the development of projections of oligodendrocytes that are responsible for the ensheathment of axons. The nonphysiological, higher or lower TPPP/p25 level leads to distinct CNS diseases. Mechanisms contributing to the control of microtubule stability and dynamics by metabolic enzymes and TPPP/p25 will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-685
Number of pages9
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Metabolic enzymes
  • Microtubule
  • Moonlighting protein
  • Sensing scaffold
  • TPPP/p25

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology

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