Tubulin Isotypes: Emerging Roles in Defining Cancer Stem Cell Niche

Frontiers in Immunology  26 May 2022 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2022.876278

Tessy Thomas Maliekal, Dhrishya Dharmapal and Suparna Sengupta


Although the role of microtubule dynamics in cancer progression is well-established, the roles of tubulin isotypes, their cargos and their specific function in the induction and sustenance of cancer stem cells (CSCs) were poorly explored. But emerging reports urge to focus on the transport function of tubulin isotypes in defining orchestrated expression of functionally critical molecules in establishing a stem cell niche, which is the key for CSC regulation. In this review, we summarize the role of specific tubulin isotypes in the transport of functional molecules that regulate metabolic reprogramming, which leads to the induction of CSCs and immune evasion. Recently, the surface expression of GLUT1 and GRP78 as well as voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) permeability, regulated by specific isotypes of β -tubulins have been shown to impart CSC properties to cancer cells, by implementing a metabolic reprogramming. Moreover, βIVb tubulin is shown to be critical in modulating EphrinB1signaling to sustain CSCs in oral carcinoma. These tubulin - interacting molecules, Ephrins, GLUT1 and GRP78, are also important regulators of immune evasion, by evoking PD-L1 mediated T-cell suppression. Thus, the recent advances in the field implicate that tubulins play a role in the controlled transport of molecules involved in CSC niche. The indication of tubulin isotypes in the regulation of CSCs offers a strategy to specifically target those tubulin isotypes to eliminate CSCs, rather than the general inhibition of microtubules, which usually leads to therapy resistance.


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