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Nanobodies in the News

Researchers from inStem, Bangalore, in collaboration with Curie Institute, Orsay, France, have developed the first tubulin nanobody to study the dynamics of microtubule modifications in living cells and use this for the identification of new cancer therapeutic drugs.

Microtubules are part of the cytoskeleton, a structural network within the cell’s cytoplasm. They alter in response to several chemicals. Due to tubulin posttranslational modifications, the microtubule cytoskeleton exists in various biochemical forms in different cells. 

Understanding tubulin modifications has been complex because of a lack of tools to mark them in living cells. Kesarwani, Shubham, et al. devised a method to design nanobodies to bind specifically to modified microtubules. The nanobody was then coupled with a fluorescent molecule to serve as a detection tool. The team developed and validated a live cell sensor against the tyrosinated form of microtubules that is already known to be essential for cell division and intracellular organization, added researcher Carsten Janke (Institut Curie) Orsay, France.

The tyrosination sensor is the first tubulin nanobody to study the dynamics of microtubule modifications in living cells. CEFIPRA researchers have shown this sensor’s application in studying the effect of small-molecule compounds, frequently used as anti-cancer drugs,  that target microtubules. Thus, the tyrosination sensor will facilitate learning microtubule functions for many researchers and help identify new therapeutic value drugs, as per the study.


Kesarwani, Shubham, et al. "Genetically encoded live-cell sensor for tyrosinated microtubules." Journal of Cell Biology 219.10 (2020).

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