Protein kinase N1 critically regulates cerebellar development and long-term functionMore about Open Access at the Crick
Authors listStephanie zur Nedden Rafaela Eith Christoph Schwarzer Lucia Zanetti Hartwig Seitter Friedrich Fresser Alexandra Koschak Angus JM Cameron Peter Parker Gottfried Baier Gabriele Baier-Bitterlich
Increasing evidence suggests that synapse dysfunctions are a major determinant of several neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Here we identify protein kinase N1 (PKN1) as a novel key player in fine-tuning the balance between axonal outgrowth and presynaptic differentiation in the parallel fiber-forming (PF-forming) cerebellar granule cells (Cgcs). Postnatal Pkn1-/- animals showed a defective PF-Purkinje cell (PF-PC) synapse formation. In vitro, Pkn1-/- Cgcs exhibited deregulated axonal outgrowth, elevated AKT phosphorylation, and higher levels of neuronal differentiation-2 (NeuroD2), a transcription factor preventing presynaptic maturation. Concomitantly, Pkn1-/- Cgcs had a reduced density of presynaptic sites. By inhibiting AKT with MK-2206 and siRNA-mediated knockdown, we found that AKT hyperactivation is responsible for the elongated axons, higher NeuroD2 levels, and reduced density of presynaptic specifications in Pkn1-/- Cgcs. In line with our in vitro data, Pkn1-/- mice showed AKT hyperactivation, elevated NeuroD2 levels, and reduced expression of PF-PC synaptic markers during stages of PF maturation in vivo. The long-term effect of Pkn1 knockout was further seen in cerebellar atrophy and mild ataxia. In summary, our results demonstrate that PKN1 functions as a developmentally active gatekeeper of AKT activity, thereby fine-tuning axonal outgrowth and presynaptic differentiation of Cgcs and subsequently the correct PF-PC synapse formation.
Issue number 5