Control of a neuronal morphology program by an RNA-binding zinc finger protein, UnkemptMore about Open Access at the Crick
Authors listJernej Murn Kathi Zarnack Yawei J Yang Omer Durak Elisabeth A Murphy Sihem Cheloufi Dilenny M Gonzalez Marianna Teplova Tomaž Curk Johannes Zuber Dinshaw J Patel Jernej Ule Nicholas Luscombe Li-Huei Tsai Christopher A Walsh Yang Shi
Cellular morphology is an essential determinant of cellular function in all kingdoms of life, yet little is known about how cell shape is controlled. Here we describe a molecular program that controls the early morphology of neurons through a metazoan-specific zinc finger protein, Unkempt. Depletion of Unkempt in mouse embryos disrupts the shape of migrating neurons, while ectopic expression confers neuronal-like morphology to cells of different nonneuronal lineages. We found that Unkempt is a sequence-specific RNA-binding protein and identified its precise binding sites within coding regions of mRNAs linked to protein metabolism and trafficking. RNA binding is required for Unkempt-induced remodeling of cellular shape and is directly coupled to a reduced production of the encoded proteins. These findings link post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression with cellular shape and have general implications for the development and disease of multicellular organisms.