Microtubules are ubiquitous cellular components involved in the control of cell structure and functions, such as cell division, regulation of shape and polarity, intracellular transport, etc. Consequently, any alteration affecting them in structure or function has a good chance of affecting the cell and generally leads to cell dysfunctions. This has been shown for instance, after treatment with microtubule- interacting drugs. Cellular aging is also characterized by the appearance of various cell dysfunctions, but the possible involvement of the microtubules in the aging process, although a rather tempting hypothesis, has not yet been extensively investigated. In this paper, I will first rapidly review the different components that build, organize and control the microtubules in normal cells, independently of the aging process. I will then consider the possible involvement of the microtubules in the aging process, more particularly in models of cells aging in vitro and in aging neuronal cells, which have been the most extensively investigated. There is some evidence for alterations in the microtubule organization both in cells aging in vitro and in the aging brain. But the interpretation of these data awaits further experiments, taking into account the latest progress in tubulin genetics and in microtubule biochemistry. Microtubules could also represent one of the cellular targets affected after signal transduction and could thus be involved in the resulting cellular responses. This hypothesis will be discussed, as it offers new insights into the regulation of microtubule organization, dynamics and functions in normal cells, which will be worthwhile to investigate during the aging process.
- Microtubule associated proteins
- Neuronal cells
- Signalling systems