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Dev Biol. 2008 Jan 1;313(1):384-97. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Overexpression of PPK-1, the Caenorhabditis elegans Type I PIP kinase, inhibits growth cone collapse in the developing nervous system and causes axonal degeneration in adults.

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Division of Cellular Biochemistry, Netherlands Cancer Institute, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Growth cones are dynamic membrane structures that migrate to target tissue by rearranging their cytoskeleton in response to environmental cues. The lipid phosphatidylinositol (4,5) bisphosphate (PIP(2)) resides on the plasma membrane of all eukaryotic cells and is thought to be required for actin cytoskeleton rearrangements. Thus PIP(2) is likely to play a role during neuron development, but this has never been tested in vivo. In this study, we have characterized the PIP(2) synthesizing enzyme Type I PIP kinase (ppk-1) in Caenorhabditis elegans. PPK-1 is strongly expressed in the nervous system, and can localize to the plasma membrane. We show that PPK-1 purified from C. elegans can generate PIP(2)in vitro and that overexpression of the kinase causes an increase in PIP(2) levels in vivo. In developing neurons, PPK-1 overexpression leads to growth cones that become stalled, produce ectopic membrane projections, and branched axons. Once neurons are established, PPK-1 overexpression results in progressive membrane overgrowth and degeneration during adulthood. These data suggest that overexpression of the Type I PIP kinase inhibits growth cone collapse, and that regulation of PIP(2) levels in established neurons may be important to maintain structural integrity and prevent neuronal degeneration.

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