RNAi of the receptor tyrosine phosphatase HmLAR2 in a single cell of an intact leech embryo leads to growth-cone collapse

Curr Biol. 2000 Sep 7;10(17):1071-4. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(00)00674-6.


Receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs) are important for growth-cone migration [1-5], but their specific roles have yet to be defined. Previously, we showed that the growth cones of the Comb cell, an embryonic cell in the leech, express high levels of an RPTP called HmLAR2 [6,7]. Here, we report the use of RNA interference (RNAi) to block expression of HmLAR2 in individual Comb cells in the developing embryo. HmLAR2 mRNA levels were reduced in the soma, processes and growth cones of Comb cells injected with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) for HmLAR2, but no decrease was detected when control dsRNAs were injected. Consistent with this observation, the level of phosphotyrosine increased significantly in the growth cones of Comb cells injected with HmLAR2 dsRNA. Within 24 hours, the growth cones of treated cells showed a distinct collapsed phenotype, with sharp reductions in lamellipodial surface area and in numbers of filopodia. These experiments indicate a key role for LAR-like RPTPs in maintaining the integrity of the growth cone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Leeches / embryology*
  • Leeches / enzymology
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / genetics*
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / administration & dosage
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / genetics
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / metabolism*


  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • HmLAR2 protein, Hirudo medicinalis
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases