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Surface expression of the netrin receptor UNC5H1 is regulated through a protein kinase C-interacting protein/protein kinase-dependent mechanism.

Published Article
Journal of Neuroscience
Society for Neuroscience
UCSC Stem Cell biomedical-ucsc


Netrin-1 is a bifunctional guidance cue that directs migrating neurons and axons based on specific receptors expressed on the cell surface. Attraction occurs through the receptor Deleted in Colorectal Cancer (DCC) and repulsion occurs through a receptor complex of DCC and UNC5H, the vertebrate homolog to Caenorhabditis elegans UNC-5, but how the specific surface expression of these receptors is achieved remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that surface expression of UNC5H1 is regulated in neurons by protein interacting with C kinase-1 (PICK1) and protein kinase C (PKC), and show that one mechanism by which cells control their response to netrin-1 is by changing the surface availability of receptors. We identified PICK1 as a binding partner for UNC5H1 using the yeast two-hybrid system and found that the extreme three C-terminal amino acids of UNC5H1 interact with the PSD-95/Dlg/ZO-1 (PDZ) domain of PICK1. Coexpression of UNC5H1 and PICK1 in heterologous cells results in the recruitment of PICK1 to UNC5H1 clusters. Endogenous UNC5H1 and PICK1 coimmunoprecipitate from extracts of cultured hippocampal neurons and P4 cortices, and immunohistochemistry shows that UNC5H1, PICK1, and PKC are all present in growth cones. PKC activation induces the formation of UNC5H1/PICK1/PKC complexes and leads to the specific removal of UNC5H1, but not DCC, from the surface of neurons and growth cones via a PICK1/PKC-dependent mechanism. Lastly, we demonstrate that activating PKC, which decreases surface expression of UNC5H1, inhibits netrin-1-dependent collapse of hippocampal growth cones. Together, our results suggest that by regulating the surface expression of UNC5Hs, an axon can modulate its repellent response to netrin-1.

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