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Dev Biol. 1996 Oct 10;179(1):135-47.

Nonmyristoylated MARCKS complements some but not all of the developmental defects associated with MARCKS deficiency in mice.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


The myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate, or MARCKS protein, is a widely expressed, prominent substrate for protein kinase C. Although the exact function of MARCKS has not been elucidated, targeted disruption of the MARCKS gene (Macs) in mice has shown that MARCKS plays a crucial role in the development of the central nervous system. Mice deficient in MARCKS exhibited universal perinatal death with defects in neurulation, fusion of the cerebral hemispheres, formation of the great forebrain commissures, and retinal and cortical lamination (Stumpo et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 92, 944-948, 1995). In the present studies, a transgene consisting of approximately 3.4 kb of promoter from the human MARCKS gene (MACS), with an epitope tag sequence inserted at the carboxyl terminus of the MARCKS coding region, was able to complement completely MARCKS deficiency in mice. Thus, the human transgene contained all of the elements necessary for normal developmental expression of MARCKS. To test the importance of MARCKS myristoylation to its developmental role, an otherwise identical transgene was constructed in which the glycine at the amino terminus of MARCKS was mutated to an alanine. This mutation, which resulted in the expression of nonmyristoylated MARCKS, was successful in partially rescuing the Macs null phenotype. Specifically, about 25% of these mice survived the perinatal period; these survivors appeared to develop normally except for slightly decreased body size. In both the survivors and the nonsurvivors, all of the known anatomical defects associated with MARCKS deficiency were corrected by expression of the nonmyristoylated human protein. These results indicate that myristoylation of MARCKS is not required for the protein to correct many of the developmental abnormalities characteristic of its deficiency.

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