3 years ago

The ENU-3 protein family members function in the Wnt pathway parallel to UNC-6/Netrin to promote motor neuron axon outgrowth in C. elegans

The axons of the DA and DB classes of motor neurons fail to reach the dorsal cord in the absence of the guidance cue UNC-6/Netrin or its receptor UNC-5 in C. elegans. However, the axonal processes usually exit their cell bodies in the ventral cord in the absence of both molecules. Strains lacking functional versions of UNC-6 or UNC-5 have a low level of DA and DB motor neuron axon outgrowth defects. We found that mutations in the genes for all six of the ENU-3 proteins function to enhance the outgrowth defects of the DA and DB axons in strains lacking either UNC-6 or UNC-5. A mutation in the gene for the MIG-14/Wntless protein also enhances defects in a strain lacking either UNC-5 or UNC-6, suggesting that the ENU-3 and Wnt pathways function parallel to the Netrin pathway in directing motor neuron axon outgrowth. Our evidence suggests that the ENU-3 proteins are novel members of the Wnt pathway in nematodes. Five of the six members of the ENU-3 family are predicted to be single-pass trans-membrane proteins. The expression pattern of ENU-3.1 was consistent with plasma membrane localization. One family member, ENU-3.6, lacks the predicted signal peptide and the membrane-spanning domain. In HeLa cells ENU-3.6 had a cytoplasmic localization and caused actin dependent processes to appear. We conclude that the ENU-3 family proteins function in a pathway parallel to the UNC-6/Netrin pathway for motor neuron axon outgrowth, most likely in the Wnt pathway.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0012160617302245

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