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J Biol Chem. 2007 May 4;282(18):13692-702. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

LIM kinase and slingshot are critical for neurite extension.

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Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8578, Japan.


Cofilin and its closely related protein, actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF), are key regulators of actin cytoskeleton dynamics that have been implicated in growth cone motility and neurite extension. Cofilin/ADF are inactivated by LIM kinase (LIMK)-catalyzed phosphorylation and reactivated by Slingshot (SSH)-catalyzed dephosphorylation. Here we examined the roles of cofilin/ADF, LIMKs (LIMK1 and LIMK2), and SSHs (SSH1 and SSH2) in nerve growth factor (NGF)-induced neurite extension. Knockdown of cofilin/ADF by RNA interference almost completely inhibited NGF-induced neurite extension from PC12 cells, and double knockdown of SSH1/SSH2 significantly suppressed both NGF-induced cofilin/ADF dephosphorylation and neurite extension from PC12 cells, thus indicating that cofilin/ADF and their activating phosphatases SSH1/SSH2 are critical for neurite extension. Interestingly, NGF stimulated the activities of both LIMK1 and LIMK2 in PC12 cells, and suppression of LIMK1/LIMK2 expression or activity significantly reduced NGF-induced neurite extension from PC12 cells or chick dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Inhibition of LIMK1/LIMK2 activity reduced actin filament assembly in the peripheral region of the growth cone of chick DRG neurons. These results suggest that proper regulation of cofilin/ADF activities through control of phosphorylation by LIMKs and SSHs is critical for neurite extension and that LIMKs regulate actin filament assembly at the tip of the growth cone.

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