The TTLL10 polyglycylase is stimulated by tubulin glutamylation and inhibited by polyglycylation

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    In their manuscript, Cummings et al. use in vitro reconstitution to examine the differential activities of tubulin polyglycylases, providing valuable insights into the enzymatic regulation of microtubule glycylation and its mechanistic role in maintaining cilia function and microtubule dynamics. The convincing evidence, supported by well-designed experiments and appropriate controls, significantly advances our understanding of the tubulin code and its biochemical mechanisms.

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Abstract

Microtubules in cells have complex and developmentally stereotyped posttranslational modifications that support diverse processes such as cell division, ciliary growth and axonal specification. Glycylation, the addition of glycines, singly (monoglycylation) or in chains (polyglycylation), is primarily found on axonemal microtubules where it functions in cilia maintenance and motility. It is catalyzed by three enzymes in the tubulin tyrosine ligase- like family, TTLL3, 8 and 10. We show that TTLL8 monoglycylates both α- and β-tubulin, unlike TTLL3 which prefers β-tubulin. Microscopy and mass spectrometry show that TTLL10 requires monoglycylation for high affinity microtubule binding and elongates polyglycine chains only from pre-existing glycine branches. Surprisingly, tubulin polyglycylation inhibits TTLL10 recruitment to microtubules proportional with the number of posttranslationally added glycines, suggesting an autonomous mechanism for polyglycine chain length control. In contrast, tubulin glutamylation, which developmentally precedes polyglycylation in cilia, increases TTLL10 recruitment to microtubules, suggesting a mechanism for sequential deposition of tubulin modifications on axonemes. Our work sheds light on how the tubulin code is written by establishing the substrate preference and regulation of TTLL glycylases, and provides a minimal system for generating differentially glycylated microtubules for in vitro analyses of the tubulin code.

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  1. eLife assessment

    In their manuscript, Cummings et al. use in vitro reconstitution to examine the differential activities of tubulin polyglycylases, providing valuable insights into the enzymatic regulation of microtubule glycylation and its mechanistic role in maintaining cilia function and microtubule dynamics. The convincing evidence, supported by well-designed experiments and appropriate controls, significantly advances our understanding of the tubulin code and its biochemical mechanisms.

  2. Reviewer #1 (Public Review):

    Summary:

    In their current study, Cummings et al have approached this fundamental biochemical problem using a combination of purified enzyme-substrate reactions, MS/MS, and microscopy in vitro to provide key insights into the hierarchy of generating polyglycylation in cilia and flagella. They first establish that TTLL8 is a monoglycylase, with the potential to add multiple mono glycine residues on both α- and β-tubulin. They then go on to establish that monoglycylation is essential for TTLL10 binding and catalytic activity, which progressively reduces as the level of polyglycylation increases. This provides an interesting mechanism of how the level of polyglycylation is regulated in the absence of a deglycylase. Finally, the authors also establish that for efficient TTLL10 activity, it is not just monoglycylation, but also polyglutamylation that is necessary, giving a key insight into how both these modifications interact with each other to ensure there is a balanced level of PTMs on the axonemes for efficient cilia function.

    Strengths:

    The manuscript is well-written, and experiments are succinctly planned and outlined. The experiments were used to provide the conclusions to what the authors were hypothesising and provide some new novel possible mechanistic insights into the whole process of regulation of tubulin glycylation in motile cilia.

    Weaknesses:

    The initial part of the manuscript where the authors discuss about the requirement of monoglycylation by TTLL8 is not new. This was established back in 2009 when Rogowski et al (2009) showed that polyglycylation of tubulin by TTLL10 occurs only when co-expressed in cells with TTLL3 or TTLL8. So, this part of the study adds very little new information to what was known.

    The study also fails to discuss the involvement of the other monoglycylase, TTLL3 in the entire study, which is a weakness as in vivo, in cells, both the monoglycylases act in concert and so, may play a role in regulating the activity of TTLL10.

  3. Reviewer #2 (Public Review):

    In their manuscript, Cummings et al. focus on the enzymatic activities of TTLL3, TTLL8, and TTLL10, which catalyze the glycylation of tubulin, a crucial posttranslational modification for cilia maintenance and motility. The experiments are beautifully performed, with meticulous attention to detail and the inclusion of appropriate controls, ensuring the reliability of the findings. The authors utilized in vitro reconstitution to demonstrate that TTLL8 functions exclusively as a glycyl initiase, adding monoglycines at multiple positions on both α- and β-tubulin tails. In contrast, TTLL10 acts solely as a tubulin glycyl elongase, extending existing glycine chains. A notable finding is the differential substrate recognition between TTLL glycylases and TTLL glutamylases, highlighting a broader substrate promiscuity in glycylases compared to the more selective glutamylases. This observation aligns with the greater diversification observed among glutamylases. The study reveals a hierarchical mechanism of enzyme recruitment to microtubules, where TTLL10 binding necessitates prior monoglycylation by TTLL8. This binding is progressively inhibited by increasing polyglycine chain length, suggesting a self-regulatory mechanism for polyglycine chain length control. Furthermore, TTLL10 recruitment is enhanced by TTLL6-mediated polyglutamylation, illustrating a complex interplay between different tubulin modifications. In addition, they uncover that polyglutamylation stimulates TTLL10 recruitment without necessarily increasing glycylation on the same tubulin dimer, due to the potential for TTLLs to interact with neighboring tubulin dimers. This mechanism could lead to an enrichment of glycylation on the same microtubule, contributing to the complexity of the tubulin code. The article also addresses a significant challenge in the field: the difficulty of generating microtubules with controlled posttranslational modifications for in vitro studies. By identifying the specific modification sites and the interplay between TTLL activities, the authors provide a valuable tool for creating differentially glycylated microtubules. This advancement will facilitate further studies on the effects of glycylation on microtubule-associated proteins and the broader implications of the tubulin code. In summary, this study substantially contributes to our knowledge of posttranslational enzymes and their regulation, offering new insights into the biochemical mechanisms underlying microtubule modifications. The rigorous experimental approach and the novel findings presented make this a pivotal addition to the field of cellular and molecular biology.