Publication Date



The Journal of Neuroscience


Dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK) plays a pivotal role in the development, degeneration, and regeneration of neurons. DLK can regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally, but the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. The Drosophila DLK, Wallenda (Wnd), regulates the expression of Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) to control presynaptic arbor growth. This regulation is mediated by the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) of Dscam mRNA, which suggests that RNA binding proteins (RBPs) mediate DLK function. We performed a genome-wide cell-based RNAi screen of RBPs and identified the cytoplasmic poly(A)-binding protein, pAbp, as an RBP that mediates Wnd-induced increase in Dscam expression. Genetic analysis shows that Wnd requires pAbp for promoting presynaptic arbor growth and for enhancing Dscam expression. Our analysis revealed that Dscam mRNAs harbor short poly(A) tails. We identified a region in Dscam 3′UTR that specifically interacts with pAbp. Removing this region significantly reduced Wnd-induced increase in Dscam expression. These suggest that a noncanonical interaction of PABP with the 3′UTR of target transcripts is essential for DLK functions.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The kinase DLK plays key roles in a multitude of neuronal responses, including axon development, neurodegeneration, and nerve injury. Previous studies show that DLK acts via mRNAs to regulate protein synthesis, but how DLK does so is poorly understood. This study demonstrates that DLK regulates the synthesis of Dscam through the poly(A)-binding protein PABP-C. Whereas PABP-C is known as a general translational activator, our study shows that DLK-mediated Dscam expression involves a noncanonical interaction between PABP-C and the Dscam mRNA, which leads to a selective regulation of Dscam translation by PABP-C. Thus, our study provides novel insights into the mechanisms that underlie the function of DLK and regulation of gene expression of PABP-C.


axon growth, DLK, Dscam, PAPB, post-transcriptional regulation, RNAi screen

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Neurosurgery Commons



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