Unc-51-like kinase 1/2-mediated endocytic processes regulate filopodia extension and branching of sensory axons.
Zhou X, Babu JR, da Silva S, Shu Q, Graef IA, Oliver T, Tomoda T, Tani T, Wooten MW, Wang F.
Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC 27710, USA.
The molecular mechanism and significance of endocytic processes involved in directional axon elongation are not well understood. The Unc-51 family of serine/threonine kinases was shown to be important for axon growth and was also linked to endocytosis, providing an entry point to study this problem. We found that mouse Unc-51-like kinase 1/2 (Ulk1/2) proteins are localized to vesicular structures in growth cones of mouse spinal sensory neurons. RNAi-mediated knockdown of Ulk1 and/or Ulk2 resulted in impaired endocytosis of nerve growth factor (NGF), excessive axon arborization, and severely stunted axon elongation. The evidence also indicates that Ulk1/2 mediates a non-clathrin-coated endocytosis in sensory growth cones. Interestingly, NGF can induce the interaction of Ulk1 with TrkA receptor complexes through promoting K63-polyubiquitination of Ulk1 and binding of Ulk1 to the scaffolding protein p62. These results and additional studies suggest that Ulk1/2 proteins regulate filopodia extension and neurite branching during sensory axon outgrowth, probably through regulating TrkA receptor trafficking and signaling.

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