The Pintard lab recently published a new article in Journal of Cell Biology:
Microtubule-severing enzymes (MSEs), such as Katanin, Spastin, and Fidgetin play essential roles in cell division and neurogenesis. They damage the microtubule (MT) lattice, which can either destroy or amplify the MT cytoskeleton, depending on the cellular context. However, little is known about how they interact with their substrates. We have identified the microtubule-binding domains (MTBD) required for Katanin function in C. elegans. Katanin is a heterohexamer of dimers containing a catalytic subunit p60 and a regulatory subunit p80, both of which are essential for female meiotic spindle assembly. Here, we report that p80-like(MEI-2) dictates Katanin binding to MTs via two MTBDs composed of basic patches. Substituting these patches reduces Katanin binding to MTs, compromising its function in female meiotic-spindle assembly. Structural alignments of p80-like(MEI-2) with p80s from different species revealed that the MTBDs are evolutionarily conserved, even if the specific amino acids involved vary. Our findings highlight the critical importance of the regulatory subunit (p80) in providing MT binding to the Katanin complex.