Neurite initiation is the first step in neuronal development and occurs spontaneously in soft tissue environments. Although the mechanisms regulating the morphology of migratory cells on rigid substrates in cell culture are widely known, how soft environments modulate neurite initiation remains elusive. Using hydrogel cultures, pharmacologic inhibition, and genetic approaches, we reveal that paxillin-linked endocytosis and adhesion are components of a bistable switch controlling neurite initiation in a substrate modulus-dependent manner. On soft substrates, most paxillin binds to endocytic factors and facilitates vesicle invagination, elevating neuritogenic Rac1 activity and expression of genes encoding the endocytic machinery. By contrast, on rigid substrates, cells develop extensive adhesions, increase RhoA activity and sequester paxillin from the endocytic machinery, thereby delaying neurite initiation. Our results highlight paxillin as a core molecule in substrate modulus-controlled morphogenesis and define a mechanism whereby neuronal cells respond to environments exhibiting varying mechanical properties.
- Pei-Lin Cheng
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Kang Shen, Stanford University, United States
© 2017, Chang et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The ATPase p97 (also known as VCP, Cdc48) has crucial functions in a variety of important cellular processes such as protein quality control, organellar homeostasis, and DNA damage repair, and its de-regulation is linked to neuromuscular diseases and cancer. p97 is tightly controlled by numerous regulatory cofactors, but the full range and function of the p97–cofactor network is unknown. Here, we identify the hitherto uncharacterized FAM104 proteins as a conserved family of p97 interactors. The two human family members VCP nuclear cofactor family member 1 and 2 (VCF1/2) bind p97 directly via a novel, alpha-helical motif and associate with p97-UFD1-NPL4 and p97-UBXN2B complexes in cells. VCF1/2 localize to the nucleus and promote the nuclear import of p97. Loss of VCF1/2 results in reduced nuclear p97 levels, slow growth, and hypersensitivity to chemical inhibition of p97 in the absence and presence of DNA damage, suggesting that FAM104 proteins are critical regulators of nuclear p97 functions.
The amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients’ brains contain collagens and are embedded extracellularly. Several collagens have been proposed to influence Aβ aggregate formation, yet their role in clearance is unknown. To investigate the potential role of collagens in forming and clearance of extracellular aggregates in vivo, we created a transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans strain that expresses and secretes human Aβ1-42. This secreted Aβ forms aggregates in two distinct places within the extracellular matrix. In a screen for extracellular human Aβ aggregation regulators, we identified different collagens to ameliorate or potentiate Aβ aggregation. We show that a disintegrin and metalloprotease a disintegrin and metalloprotease 2 (ADM-2), an ortholog of ADAM9, reduces the load of extracellular Aβ aggregates. ADM-2 is required and sufficient to remove the extracellular Aβ aggregates. Thus, we provide in vivo evidence of collagens essential for aggregate formation and metalloprotease participating in extracellular Aβ aggregate removal.