Protein phosphatase 2A facilitates axonogenesis by dephosphorylating CRMP2.
Collapsin response mediator protein-2 (CRMP-2), a phosphoprotein involved in axonal outgrowth and microtubule dynamics, is aberrantly phosphorylated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain. Alteration of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) activity is associated with the pathogenesis of AD. Here, we show that CRMP-2 is one of the major substrates for GSK-3 in pig brain extracts. Both GSK-3alpha and 3beta phosphorylate purified pig brain CRMP-2 and significantly alter its mobility in SDS-gels, resembling the CRMP-2 modification observed in AD brain. Interestingly, this modification can be detected in SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells treated with a phosphatase inhibitor, okadaic acid (OA), and GSK-3 inhibitors completely block this OA-induced event. Knockdown of both GSK-3alpha and 3beta, but not either kinase alone, impairs OA-induced modification of CRMP-2. Mutation of Ser-518 or Ser-522 of CRMP-2, which are highly phosphorylated in AD brain, to Ala blocks the OA-induced modification of CRMP-2 in SK-N-SH cells. Ser-522 prephosphorylated by Cdk5 is required for subsequent GSK-3alpha-mediated phosphorylation of CRMP-2 in vitro. Collectively, our results demonstrate for the first time that OA can induce phosphorylation of CRMP-2 in SK-N-SH cells at sites aberrantly phosphorylated in AD brain, and both GSK-3alpha and 3beta and Ser-522 kinase(s) are involved in this process.