A site for medical students - Practical,Theory,Osce Notes

Microtubule structure - Its function and role in Neurological Disease - An overview

Microtubules are cylindrical structures made up of tubulin protein subunits that are essential components of the cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells, including neurons. They play a critical role in maintaining cell shape, intracellular transport, and cell division. In neurons, microtubules are important for axonal transport, growth cone guidance, and synaptic function.

Microtubules consist of two types of tubulin protein subunits: alpha and beta tubulin. These subunits are arranged in a helical fashion to form a hollow tube with an outer diameter of approximately 25 nm and an inner diameter of approximately 15 nm. Microtubules are dynamic structures that can undergo rapid assembly and disassembly, a process known as dynamic instability.

In neurons, microtubules are involved in the transport of organelles, vesicles, and proteins along the axon. This transport is critical for maintaining neuronal function and synaptic activity. Additionally, microtubules play a role in the regulation of synaptic plasticity, which is essential for learning and memory.

Microtubule dysfunction has been implicated in a number of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease. In Alzheimer's disease, microtubule dysfunction may contribute to the accumulation of tau protein, which forms neurofibrillary tangles. In Parkinson's disease, microtubule disruption may lead to the accumulation of alpha-synuclein, which forms Lewy bodies. In Huntington's disease, microtubule dysfunction may contribute to the accumulation of mutant huntingtin protein in the cytoplasm, which can cause cellular toxicity.

There is ongoing research into the role of microtubules in neurological diseases and the potential for targeting microtubules as a therapeutic approach. Drugs that stabilize or destabilize microtubules have been investigated as potential treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. However, further research is needed to fully understand the role of microtubules in neurological diseases and to develop effective therapies.