Strittmatter SM, Valenzuela D, Fishman MC. 1994. An amino-terminal domain of the growth-associated protein GAP-43 mediates its effects on filopodial formation and cell spreading. Journal of cell science. 107 ( Pt 1):195-204. Pubmed: 8175908


GAP-43 is a neuronal protein that is believed to be important to neuronal growth and nerve terminal plasticity. It is enriched on the inner surface of growth cone membranes, a localization that may depend upon palmitoylation of Cys3 and Cys4. It is a major substrate for protein kinase C, which phosphorylates Ser41. Isolated GAP-43 can bind to actin and to calmodulin, and can activate the heterotrimeric GTP-binding proteins, G(o) and Gi. A peptide consisting of the GAP-43 sequence 39-55 binds calmodulin, and an amino-terminal GAP-43 (1-10) peptide activates G(o), suggesting that these stretches may be functional domains of the intact protein. When expressed in non-neuronal cells, GAP-43 enhances filopodial extension and has effects upon cell spreading. We have examined the effects of various GAP-43 domains upon this assay, by expression of GAP-43, GAP-43 mutant proteins, and GAP-43-CAT fusion proteins in COS-7 cells. We find that the amino terminus (Met-Leu-Cys-Cys-Met-Arg-Arg-Thr-Lys-Gln) is an important contributor to these effects on cell shape. A GAP-43 protein mutant in Cys3 and Cys4 does not bind to the membrane, and is inactive. Mutants in Arg6 or Lys9 also are inactive, although they remain localized to particulate fractions; Arg7 mutants are active. A chimeric gene consisting of GAP-43 (1-10) fused to chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) also causes cell shape changes. As for GAP-43, the effects of this fusion protein are abolished by mutations of Cys3, Cys4, Arg6 or Lys9, but not by mutation of Arg7. Therefore, the cell surface activity of transfected GAP-43 depends upon its amino terminus, although other domains may regulate it in this regard. Since the amino-terminal domain includes the peptide stretch known to be capable of activating G(o) and Gi, we examined the effect of GAP-43 on a Gi-regulated second messenger system, the inhibition of cAMP production in A431 cells. A431 cells stably transfected with GAP-43 spread less well than do controls. In addition, they evidence decreased levels of forskolin-stimulated cAMP, consistent with chronic stimulation of Gi. Stimulation of adenylate cyclase by isoproterenol reverses the GAP-43-induced changes in cell shape. This suggests that G protein stimulation is involved in GAP-43 effects upon cell shape.

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Photo of Mark C. Fishman

Mark C. Fishman’s group studies the heart-brain connection. They employ a range of genetic, developmental, and neurobiological tools in zebrafish to understand what the heart tells the brain, and how critical internal sensory systems adjust homeostatic and somatic behaviors, including social interactions.

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