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J Cell Sci. 2003 Jan 15;116(Pt 2):239-46.

Differential localization of WAVE isoforms in filopodia and lamellipodia of the neuronal growth cone.

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  • 1Department of Biochemical Science, Kyushu Institute of Technology, 680-4 Kawatsu, lizuka, Fukuoka 820-8502, Japan.


The formation and extension of filopodia in response to an extracellular stimulus by guidance cues determine the path of growth cone advance. Actin-filament bundling and actin polymerization at the tips supply the driving force behind the formation and elongation. We tried to clarify how signals in response to extracellular cues are transformed to induce filopodial generation and extension. Observations on the formation process of filopodia at growth cones in the neuroblastoma cell line NG108 showed that WAVE (WASP (Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein)-family verprolin homologous protein) isoforms played crucial and distinct roles in this process. WAVE1 was continuously distributed along the leading edge only and was not found in the filopodia. WAVE2 and WAVE3 discretely localized at the initiation sites of microspikes on the leading edge and also concentrated at the tips of protruding filopodia. We further found that WAVE isoforms localized at the filopodial tips through SHD (SCAR homology domain), next to its leucine zipper-like motif. Furthermore, time-lapse observations of filopodial formation in living cells showed that WAVE2 and WAVE3 were continuously expressed at the tips of filopodia during elongation. These results indicate that WAVE2 or WAVE3 may guide the actin bundles into the filopodia and promote actin assembly at the tips.

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