The MAPKKK dual leucine zipper-containing kinase (DLK, Wallenda in Drosophila) is an evolutionarily conserved component of the axonal injury response pathway. After nerve injury,DLKpromotes degeneration of distal axons and regeneration of proximal axons. This dual role in coordinating degeneration and regeneration suggests that DLK may be a sensor of axon injury, and so understanding how DLK is activated is important. Two mechanisms are known to activate DLK. First, increasing the levels of DLK via overexpression or loss of thePHRubiquitin ligases that target DLK activate DLK signaling. Second, in Caenorhabditis elegans, a calcium-dependent mechanism, can activate DLK. Here we describe a new mechanism that activates DLK in Drosophila: Loss of the spectraplakin short stop (shot). In a genetic screen for mutants with defective neuromuscular junction development, we identify a hypomorphic allele of shot that displays synaptic terminal overgrowth and a precocious regenerative response to nerve injury. We demonstrate that both phenotypes are the result of overactivation of the DLK signaling pathway. Wefurther show that, unlike mutations in the PHR ligase Highwire, loss of function of shot activates DLK without a concomitant increase in the levels of DLK. As a spectraplakin, Shot binds to both actin and microtubules and promotes cytoskeletal stability. The DLK pathway is also activated by downregulation of the TCP1 chaperonin complex, whose normal function is to promote cytoskeletal stability. These findings support the model that DLK is activated by cytoskeletal instability, which is a shared feature of both spectraplakin mutants and injured axons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17863-17873
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number45
StatePublished - 2013


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