Vasohibins/SVBP are tubulin carboxypeptidases (TCPs) that regulate neuron differentiation

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Science  15 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6369, pp. 1448-1453
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao4165

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Tubulin carboxypeptidase identity revealed

Enzymes of the α-tubulin detyrosination/tyrosination cycle create landmarks on microtubules that are essential for their multiple cellular functions and are altered in disease. Tubulin carboxypeptidases (TCPs) responsible for detyrosination have remained elusive for 40 years (see the Perspective by Akhmanova and Maiato). Aillaud et al. identified vasohibins as enzymes that perform the TCP function and found that their small interacting partner SBVP was essential for their activity. Vasohibin/SVBP complexes were involved in neuron polarization and brain cortex development. The authors also developed an inhibitor targeting this family of enzymes. Using a completely different strategy, Nieuwenhuis et al. also showed that vasohibins can remove the C-terminal tyrosine of α-tubulin.

Science, this issue p. 1448, p. 1453; see also p. 1381


Reversible detyrosination of α-tubulin is crucial to microtubule dynamics and functions, and defects have been implicated in cancer, brain disorganization, and cardiomyopathies. The identity of the tubulin tyrosine carboxypeptidase (TCP) responsible for detyrosination has remained unclear. We used chemical proteomics with a potent irreversible inhibitor to show that the major brain TCP is a complex of vasohibin-1 (VASH1) with the small vasohibin binding protein (SVBP). VASH1 and its homolog VASH2, when complexed with SVBP, exhibited robust and specific Tyr/Phe carboxypeptidase activity on microtubules. Knockdown of vasohibins or SVBP and/or inhibitor addition in cultured neurons reduced detyrosinated α-tubulin levels and caused severe differentiation defects. Furthermore, knockdown of vasohibins disrupted neuronal migration in developing mouse neocortex. Thus, vasohibin/SVBP complexes represent long-sought TCP enzymes.

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