UNC-33 (CRMP) and ankyrin organize microtubules and localize kinesin to polarize axon-dendrite sorting

Tapan A. Maniar, Miriam Kaplan, George J. Wang, Kang Shen, Li Wei, Jocelyn E. Shaw, Sandhya P. Koushika, Cornelia I. Bargmann

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96 Scopus citations


The polarized distribution of neuronal proteins to axons and dendrites relies on microtubule-binding proteins such as CRMP, directed motors such as the kinesin UNC-104 (Kif1A) and diffusion barriers such as ankyrin. The causative relationships among these molecules are unknown. We show here that Caenorhabditis elegans CRMP (UNC-33) acts early in neuronal development, together with ankyrin (UNC-44), to organize microtubule asymmetry and axon-dendrite sorting. In unc-33 and unc-44 mutants, axonal proteins were mislocalized to dendrites and vice versa, suggesting bidirectional failures of axon-dendrite identity. unc-44 directed UNC-33 localization to axons, where it was enriched in a region that resembled the axon initial segment. unc-33 and unc-44 were both required to establish the asymmetric dynamics of axonal and dendritic microtubules; in their absence, microtubules were disorganized, the axonal kinesin UNC-104 invaded dendrites, and inappropriate UNC-104 activity randomized axonal protein sorting. We suggest that UNC-44 and UNC-33 direct polarized sorting through their global effects on neuronal microtubule organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

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