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Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Apr;27(7):2548-61. Epub 2007 Jan 8.

Calpain 6 is involved in microtubule stabilization and cytoskeletal organization.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Chemistry and Metabolism, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


The calpains are a family of Ca(2+)-dependent cysteine proteases implicated in various biological processes. In this family, calpain 6 (Capn6) is unique in that it lacks the active-site cysteine residues requisite for protease activity. During the search for genes downstream of the endothelin 1 (ET-1) signaling in pharyngeal-arch development, we identified Capn6. After confirming that the expression of Capn6 in pharyngeal arches is downregulated in ET-1-null embryos by in situ hybridization, we investigated its function. In Capn6-transfected cells, cytokinesis was retarded and was often aborted to yield multinucleated cells. Capn6 overexpression also caused the formation of microtubule bundles rich in acetylated alpha-tubulin and resistant to the depolymerizing activity of nocodazole. Green fluorescent protein-Capn6 overexpression, immunostaining for endogenous Capn6, and biochemical analysis demonstrated interaction between Capn6 and microtubules, which appeared to be mainly mediated by domain III. Furthermore, RNA interference-mediated Capn6 inactivation caused microtubule instability with a loss of acetylated alpha-tubulin and induced actin reorganization, resulting in lamellipodium formation with membrane ruffling. Taken together, these results indicate that Capn6 is a microtubule-stabilizing protein expressed in embryonic tissues that may be involved in the regulation of microtubule dynamics and cytoskeletal organization.

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