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Homeostatic versus pathological functions of Dual Leucine Zipper Kinase in the adult mouse brain

By Sunil Goodwani, Mary E Hamby, Virginie Buggia-Prevot, Paul Acton, Celia Fernandez, Rami Al-Ouran, Yongying Jiang, Michael Soth, Philip Jones, William J. Ray

Posted 26 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/479378

Dual Leucine Zipper Kinase (DLK, Map3k12), is an injury-induced axonal protein that governs the balance between degeneration and regeneration through its downstream effectors c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and phosphorylated c-jun (p-c-Jun). DLK is generally considered to be inactive in healthy neurons until induced by injury. However we report that DLK in the cerebellum appears constitutively active and drives nuclear p-c-Jun in cerebellar granule neurons in the absence of injury. In contrast the adult hippocampus expresses similar levels of apparently constitutively active DLK, but p-c-Jun is lower and does not accumulate in the nucleus. Injury is required there for p-c-jun nuclear expression, because in the rTg4510 model of tauopathy, where there is extensive hippocampal pathology, nuclear p-c-Jun is induced in a DLK-dependent manner. This context-specific regulation of DLK signaling could relate to availability of JNK scaffolding proteins, as the cerebellum preferentially expresses JNK-interacting protein-1 (JIP-1) whereas the hippocampus contains more JIP-3 and Plenty of SH3 (POSH). To understand how DLK signaling differs between the hippocampus and cerebellum, we selectively blocked DLK and measured changes in protein and mRNA expression. In the cerebellum, p-c-Jun levels correlated with synaptophysin, suggesting a link between DLK activity and synaptic maintenance. In rTg4510 mice, hippocampal p-c-Jun instead correlated with markers of neuronal injury and gliosis (Iba1 and GFAP). RNA sequencing revealed that in both brain regions DLK inhibition reduced expression of JNK/c-Jun pathway components and a novel set of co-regulated genes. In the cerebellum, Jun mRNA levels were co-regulated with genes mapping to metabolic pathways, while in the rTg4510 hippocampus, Jun-correlated mRNAs correspond primarily to neuroinflammation. These data suggest that in the uninjured cerebellum, DLK/p-c-Jun signaling is linked to synaptic regulation, but in the hippocampus, pathologically activated DLK/p-c-Jun signaling regulates genes associated with the injury response.

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