Regulation of microtubule severing by katanin subunits during neuronal development

Wenqian Yu, Joanna M. Solowska, Liang Qiang, Arzu Karabay, Douglas Baird, Peter W. Baas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Katanin, the microtubule-severing protein, consists of a subunit termed P60 that breaks the lattice of the microtubule and another subunit termed P80, the functions of which are not well understood. Data presented here show that the ratio of P60 to P80 varies markedly in different tissues, at different phases of development, and regionally within the neuron. P80 is more concentrated in the cell body and less variable during development, whereas P60 often shows concentrations in the distal tips of processes as well as dramatic spikes in expression at certain developmental stages. Overexpression of P60 at various stages in the differentiation of cultured hippocampal neurons results in substantial loss of microtubule mass and a diminution in total process length. In comparison, overexpression of P80, which is thought to augment the severing of micro tubules by P60, results in a milder loss of microtubule mass and diminution in process length. At the developmental stage corresponding to axogenesis, overexpression of P60 decreases the total number of processes extended by the neuron, whereas overexpression of P80 produces the opposite result, suggesting that the effects on neuronal morphology are dependent on the degree of microtubule severing and loss of polymer. The microtubules that occupy the axon are notably more resistant to depolymerization in response to excess P60 or P80 than microtubules elsewhere in the neuron, suggesting that regional differences in the susceptibility of microtubules to severing proteins may be a critical factor in the generation and maintenance of neuronal polarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5573-5583
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2005


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeR01NS028785


    • Axon
    • Katanin
    • Microtubule
    • Microtubule severing
    • Neuron
    • Neuronal polarity


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