Previous work has shown that guidance cues trigger rapid changes in protein dynamics in retinal growth cones: netrin-1 stimulates both protein synthesis and degradation, while Sema3A elicits synthesis, and LPA induces degradation. What signaling pathways are involved? Our studies confirm that p42/44 MAPK mediates netrin-1 responses and further show that inhibiting its activity blocks cue-induced protein synthesis. Unexpectedly, p38 MAPK is also activated by netrin-1 in retinal growth cones and is required for chemotropic responses and translation. Sema3A- and LPA-induced responses, by contrast, require a single MAPK, p42/p44 and p38, respectively. In addition, we report that caspase-3, an apoptotic protease, is rapidly activated by netrin-1 and LPA in a proteasome- and p38-dependent manner and is required for chemotropic responses. These findings suggest that the apoptotic pathway may be used locally to control protein levels in growth cones and that the differential activation of MAPK pathways may underlie cue-directed migration.
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