Most organisms have multiple α-and β-tubulin isotypes that likely contribute to the diversity of microtubule (MT) functions. To understand the functional differences of tubulin isotypes in Caenorhabditis elegans, which has nine α-tubulin isotypes and six β-tubulin isotypes, we systematically constructed null mutants and GFP-fusion strains for all tubulin isotypes with the CRISPR/Cas9 system and analyzed their expression patterns and levels in adult hermaphrodites. Four isotypes—α-tubulins TBA-1 and TBA-2 and β-tubulins TBB-1 and TBB-2—were expressed in virtually all tissues, with a distinct tissue-specific spectrum. Other isotypes were expressed in specific tissues or cell types at significantly lower levels than the broadly expressed isotypes. Four isotypes (TBA-5, TBA-6, TBA-9, and TBB-4) were expressed in different subsets of ciliated sensory neurons, and TBB-4 was inefficiently incorporated into mitotic spindle MTs. Taken together, we propose that MTs in C. elegans are mainly composed of four broadly expressed tubulin isotypes and that incorporation of a small amount of tissue-specific isotypes may contribute to tissue-specific MT properties. These newly constructed strains will be useful for further elucidating the distinct roles of tubulin isotypes.
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