Dual leucine zipper kinase regulates expression of axon guidance genes in mouse neuronal cells.
ABSTRACT: Recent genetic studies in model organisms, such as Drosophila, C. elegans and mice, have highlighted a critical role for dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK) in neural development and axonal responses to injury. However, exactly how DLK fulfills these functions remains to be determined. Using RNA-seq profiling, we evaluated the global changes in gene expression that are caused by shRNA-mediated knockdown of endogenous DLK in differentiated Neuro-2a neuroblastoma cells.Our analysis led to the identification of numerous up- and down-regulated genes, among which several were found to be associated with system development and axon guidance according to gene ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analyses, respectively. Because of their importance in axonal growth, pruning and regeneration during development and adult life, we then examined by quantitative RT-PCR the mRNA expression levels of the identified axon guidance genes in DLK-depleted cells. Consistent with the RNA-seq data, our results confirmed that loss of DLK altered expression of the genes encoding neuropilin 1 (Nrp1), plexin A4 (Plxna4), Eph receptor A7 (Epha7), Rho family GTPase 1 (Rnd1) and semaphorin 6B (Sema6b). Interestingly, this regulation of Nrp1 and Plxna4 mRNA expression by DLK in Neuro-2a cells was also reflected at the protein level, implicating DLK in the modulation of the function of these axon guidance molecules.Collectively, these results provide the first evidence that axon guidance genes are downstream targets of the DLK signaling pathway, which through their regulation probably modulates neuronal cell development, structure and function.
Project description:Neurogenesis of projection neurons requires that axons be initiated, extended, and connected. Differences in the expression of axon growth and guidance genes must drive these events, but comprehensively characterizing these differences in a single neuronal type has not been accomplished. Guided by a catalog of gene expression in olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs), in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry revealed that Cxcr4 and Dbn1, two axon initiation genes, marked the developmental transition from basal progenitor cells to immature OSNs in the olfactory epithelium. The CXCR4 immunoreactivity of these nascent OSNs overlapped partially with markers of proliferation of basal progenitor cells and partially with immunoreactivity for GAP43, the canonical marker of immature OSNs. Intracellular guidance cue signaling transcripts Ablim1, Crmp1, Dypsl2, Dpysl3, Dpysl5, Gap43, Marcskl1, and Stmn1-4 were specific to, or much more abundant in, the immature OSN layer. Receptors that mediate axonal inhibition or repulsion tended to be expressed in both immature and mature OSNs (Plxna1, Plxna4, Nrp2, Efna5) or specifically in mature OSNs (Plxna3, Unc5b, Efna3, Epha5, Epha7), although some were specific to immature OSNs (Plxnb1, Plxnb2, Plxdc2, Nrp1). Cell adhesion molecules were expressed either by both immature and mature OSNs (Dscam, Ncam1, Ncam2, Nrxn1) or solely by immature OSNs (Chl1, Nfasc1, Dscaml1). Given the loss of intracellular signaling protein expression, the continued expression of guidance cue receptors in mature OSNs is consistent with a change in the role of these receptors, perhaps to sending signals back to the cell body and nucleus.
Project description:Semaphorins are a large family of axon guidance molecules that are known primarily as ligands for plexins and neuropilins. Although class-6 semaphorins are transmembrane proteins, they have been implicated as ligands in different aspects of neural development, including neural crest cell migration, axon guidance and cerebellar development. However, the specific spatial and temporal expression of semaphorin 6B (Sema6B) in chick commissural neurons suggested a receptor role in axon guidance at the spinal cord midline. Indeed, in the absence of Sema6B, post-crossing commissural axons lacked an instructive signal directing them rostrally along the contralateral floorplate border, resulting in stalling at the exit site or even caudal turns. Truncated Sema6B lacking the intracellular domain was unable to rescue the loss-of-function phenotype, confirming a receptor function of Sema6B. In support of this, we demonstrate that Sema6B binds to floorplate-derived plexin A2 (PlxnA2) for navigation at the midline, whereas a cis-interaction between PlxnA2 and Sema6B on pre-crossing commissural axons may regulate the responsiveness of axons to floorplate-derived cues.
Project description:Hippocampal mossy fibers project preferentially to the proximal-most lamina of the suprapyramidal region of CA3, the stratum lucidum, and proximal-most parts of the infrapyrmidal region of CA3c. Molecular mechanisms that govern the lamina-restricted projection of mossy fibers, however, have not been fully understood. We previously studied functions of neural repellent Semaphorin-6A (Sema6A), a class 6 transmembrane semaphorin, and its receptors, plexin-A2 (PlxnA2) and PlxnA4, in mossy fiber projection and have proposed that PlxnA4-expressing mossy fibers are principally prevented from entering the Sema6A-expressing suprapyramidal and infrapyramidal regions of CA3 but are permitted to grow into proximal parts of the regions, where repulsive activity of Sema6A is competitively suppressed by PlxnA2 (Suto et al., 2007). In the present study we demonstrate that Sema6B, another class 6 transmembrane semaphorin, is expressed in CA3 and repels mossy fibers in a PlxnA4-dependent manner in vitro. In Sema6B-deficient mice several mossy fibers aberrantly project to the stratum radiatum and the stratum oriens. The number of aberrant mossy fibers is increased in Sema6A;Sema6B double knock-out mice, indicating that Sema6A and Sema6B function additively to regulate proper projection of mossy fibers. PlxnA2 does not suppress the Sema6B response, but itself promotes growth of mossy fibers. Based on these results, we propose that the balance between mossy fiber repulsion by Sema6A and Sema6B and attraction by PlxnA2 and unknown molecule(s) prescribes the areas permissive for mossy fibers to innervate.
Project description:Optic neuropathies such as glaucoma are characterized by the degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and the irreversible loss of vision. In these diseases, focal axon injury triggers a propagating axon degeneration and, eventually, cell death. Previous work by us and others identified dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK) and JUN N-terminal kinase (JNK) as key mediators of somal cell death signaling in RGCs following axonal injury. Moreover, others have shown that activation of the DLK/JNK pathway contributes to distal axonal degeneration in some neuronal subtypes and that this activation is dependent on the adaptor protein, sterile alpha and TIR motif containing 1 (SARM1). Given that SARM1 acts upstream of DLK/JNK signaling in axon degeneration, we tested whether SARM1 plays a similar role in RGC somal apoptosis in response to optic nerve injury. Using the mouse optic nerve crush (ONC) model, our results show that SARM1 is critical for RGC axonal degeneration and that axons rescued by SARM1 deficiency are electrophysiologically active. Genetic deletion of SARM1 did not, however, prevent DLK/JNK pathway activation in RGC somas nor did it prevent or delay RGC cell death. These results highlight the importance of SARM1 in RGC axon degeneration and suggest that somal activation of the DLK/JNK pathway is activated by an as-yet-unidentified SARM1-independent signal.
Project description:The mechanisms underlying the ability of axons to regrow after injury remain poorly explored at the molecular genetic level. We used a laser injury model in Caenorhabditis elegans mechanosensory neurons to screen 654 conserved genes for regulators of axonal regrowth. We uncover several functional clusters of genes that promote or repress regrowth, including genes classically known to affect axon guidance, membrane excitability, neurotransmission, and synaptic vesicle endocytosis. The conserved Arf Guanine nucleotide Exchange Factor (GEF), EFA-6, acts as an intrinsic inhibitor of regrowth. By combining genetics and in vivo imaging, we show that EFA-6 inhibits regrowth via microtubule dynamics, independent of its Arf GEF activity. Among newly identified regrowth inhibitors, only loss of function in EFA-6 partially bypasses the requirement for DLK-1 kinase. Identification of these pathways significantly expands our understanding of the genetic basis of axonal injury responses and repair.
Project description:Visual information is relayed from the eye to the brain via retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons. Mice lacking NRP1 or NRP1-binding VEGF-A isoforms have defective RGC axon organisation alongside brain vascular defects. It is not known whether axonal defects are caused exclusively by defective VEGF-A signalling in RGCs or are exacerbated by abnormal vascular morphology. Targeted NRP1 ablation in RGCs with a Brn3bCre knock-in allele reduced axonal midline crossing at the optic chiasm and optic tract fasciculation. In contrast, Tie2-Cre-mediated endothelial NRP1 ablation induced axon exclusion zones in the optic tracts without impairing axon crossing. Similar defects were observed in Vegfa120/120 and Vegfa188/188 mice, which have vascular defects as a result of their expression of single VEGF-A isoforms. Ectopic midline vascularisation in endothelial Nrp1 and Vegfa188/188 mutants caused additional axonal exclusion zones within the chiasm. As in vitro and in vivo assays demonstrated that vessels do not repel axons, abnormally large or ectopically positioned vessels are likely to present physical obstacles to axon growth. We conclude that proper axonal wiring during brain development depends on the precise molecular control of neurovascular co-patterning.
Project description:The establishment of precise topographic maps during neural development is facilitated by the presorting of axons in the pathway before they reach their targets. In the vertebrate visual system, such topography is seen clearly in the optic tract (OT) and in the optic radiations. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in pretarget axon sorting are poorly understood. Here, we show in zebrafish that the RNA-binding protein Hermes, which is expressed exclusively in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), is involved in this process. Using a RiboTag approach, we show that Hermes acts as a negative translational regulator of specific mRNAs in RGCs. One of these targets is the guidance cue receptor Neuropilin 1 (Nrp1), which is sensitive to the repellent cue Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A). Hermes knock-down leads to topographic missorting in the OT through the upregulation of Nrp1. Restoring Nrp1 to appropriate levels in Hermes-depleted embryos rescues this effect and corrects the axon-sorting defect in the OT. Our data indicate that axon sorting relies on Hermes-regulated translation of Nrp1. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:An important mechanism governing the formation of the mature neural map is pretarget axon sorting within the sensory tract; however, the molecular mechanisms involved in this process remain largely unknown. The work presented here reveals a novel function for the RNA-binding protein Hermes in regulating the topographic sorting of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons in the optic tract and tectum. We find that Hermes negatively controls the translation of the guidance cue receptor Neuropilin-1 in RGCs, with Hermes knock-down resulting in aberrant growth cone cue sensitivity and axonal topographic misprojections. We characterize a novel RNA-based mechanism by which axons restrict their translatome developmentally to achieve proper targeting.
Project description:Leucine Zipper-bearing Kinase (LZK/MAP3K13) is a member of the mixed lineage kinase family with high sequence identity to Dual Leucine Zipper Kinase (DLK/MAP3K12). While DLK is established as a key regulator of axonal responses to injury, the role of LZK in mammalian neurons is poorly understood. By gain- and loss-of-function analyses in neuronal cultures, we identify LZK as a novel positive regulator of axon growth. LZK signals specifically through MKK4 and JNKs among MAP2Ks and MAPKs respectively in neuronal cells, with JNK activity positively regulating LZK protein levels. Neuronal maturation or activity deprivation activates the LZK-MKK4-JNK pathway. LZK and DLK share commonalities in signaling, regulation, and effects on axon extension. Furthermore, LZK-dependent regulation of DLK protein expression and the lack of additive effects on axon growth upon co-manipulation suggest complex functional interaction and cross-regulation between these two kinases. Together, our data support the possibility for two structurally related MAP3Ks to work in concert to mediate axonal responses to external insult or injury in mammalian CNS neurons.
Project description:Growth cone guidance and synaptic plasticity involve dynamic local changes in proteins at axons and dendrites. The Dual-Leucine zipper Kinase MAPKKK (DLK) has been previously implicated in synaptogenesis and axon outgrowth in C. elegans and other animals. Here we show that in C. elegans DLK-1 regulates not only proper synapse formation and axon morphology but also axon regeneration by influencing mRNA stability. DLK-1 kinase signals via a MAPKAP kinase, MAK-2, to stabilize the mRNA encoding CEBP-1, a bZip protein related to CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins, via its 3'UTR. Inappropriate upregulation of cebp-1 in adult neurons disrupts synapses and axon morphology. CEBP-1 and the DLK-1 pathway are essential for axon regeneration after laser axotomy in adult neurons, and axotomy induces translation of CEBP-1 in axons. Our findings identify the DLK-1 pathway as a regulator of mRNA stability in synapse formation and maintenance and also in adult axon regeneration.
Project description:The forkhead transcription factor FoxO6 is prominently expressed during development of the murine neocortex. However, its function in cortical development is as yet unknown. We now demonstrate that cortical development is altered in FoxO6+/- and FoxO6-/- mice, showing migrating neurons halted in the intermediate zone. Using a FoxO6-directed siRNA approach, we substantiate the requirement of FoxO6 for a correct radial migration in the developing neocortex. Subsequent genome-wide transcriptome analysis reveals altered expression of genes involved in cell adhesion, axon guidance, and gliogenesis upon silencing of FoxO6 We then show that FoxO6 binds to DAF-16-binding elements in the Plexin A4 (Plxna4) promoter region and affects Plxna4 expression. Finally, ectopic Plxna4 expression restores radial migration in FoxO6+/- and siRNA-mediated knockdown models. In conclusion, the presented data provide insights into the molecular mechanisms whereby transcriptional programs drive cortical development.