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Mech Dev. 2009 Jul;126(7):489-502. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2009.04.004. Epub 2009 May 3.

Context-specific requirements of functional domains of the Spectraplakin Short stop in vivo.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building, Manchester, UK.


Spectraplakins are large multifunctional cytoskeletal interacting molecules implicated in various processes, including gastrulation, wound healing, skin blistering and neuronal degeneration. It has been speculated that the various functional domains and regions found in Spectraplakins are used in context-specific manners, a model which would provide a crucial explanation for the multifunctional nature of Spectraplakins. Here we tested this possibility by studying domain requirements of the Drosophila Spectraplakin Short stop (Shot) in three different cellular contexts in vivo: (1) neuronal growth, which requires dynamic actin-microtubule interaction; (2) formation and maintenance of tendon cells, which depends on highly stabilised arrays of actin filaments and microtubules, and (3) compartmentalisation in neurons, which is likely to involve cortical F-actin networks. Using these cellular contexts for rescue experiments with Shot deletion constructs in shot mutant background, a number of differential domain requirements were uncovered. First, binding of Shot to F-actin through the first Calponin domain is essential in neuronal contexts but dispensable in tendon cells. This finding is supported by our analyses of shot(kakP2) mutant embryos, which produce only endogenous isoforms lacking the first Calponin domain. Thus, our data demonstrate a functional relevance for these isoforms in vivo. Second, we provide the first functional role for the Plakin domain of Shot, which has a strong requirement for compartmentalisation in neurons and axonal growth, demonstrating that Plakin domains of long Spectraplakin isoforms are of functional relevance. Like the Calponin domain, also the Plakin domain is dispensable in tendon cells, and the currently assumed role of Shot as a linker of microtubules to the tendon cell surface may have to be reconsidered. Third, we demonstrate a function of Shot as an actin-microtubule linker in dendritic growth, thus shedding new light into principal growth mechanisms of this neurite type. Taken together, our data clearly support the view that Spectraplakins function in tissue-specific modes in vivo, and even domains believed to be crucial for Spectraplakin function can be dispensable in specific contexts.

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