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EMBO Rep. 2002 Jan;3(1):56-62. Epub 2001 Dec 19.

SEK-1 MAPKK mediates Ca2+ signaling to determine neuronal asymmetric development in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University (and CREST, Japan Science and Technology Corporation), Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan.


The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway is a highly conserved signaling cascade that converts extracellular signals into various outputs. In Caenorhabditis elegans, asymmetric expression of the candidate odorant receptor STR-2 in either the left or the right of two bilaterally symmetrical olfactory AWC neurons is regulated by axon contact and Ca2+ signaling. We show that the MAPK kinase (MAPKK) SEK-1 is required for asymmetric expression in AWC neurons. Genetic and biochemical analyses reveal that SEK-1 functions in a pathway downstream of UNC-43 and NSY-1, Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and MAPK kinase kinase (MAPKKK), respectively. Thus, the NSY-1-SEK-1-MAPK cascade is activated by Ca2+ signaling through CaMKII and establishes asymmetric cell fate decision during neuronal development.

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