The related proteins SCG10 and stathmin are highly expressed in the developing nervous system. Recently it was discovered that they are potent microtubule destabilizing factors. While stathmin is expressed in a variety of cell types and shows a cytosolic distribution, SCG10 is neuron-specific and membrane-associated. It contains an N-terminal targeting sequence that mediates its transport to the growing tips of axons and dendrites. SCG10 accumulates in the central domain of the growth cone, a region that also contains highly dynamic microtubules. These dynamic microtubules are known to be important for growth cone advance and responses to guidance cues. Because overexpression of SCG10 strongly enhances neurite outgrowth, SCG10 appears to be an important factor for the dynamic assembly and disassembly of growth cone microtubules during axonal elongation. Phosphorylation negatively regulates the microtubule destabilizing activity of SCG10 and stathmin, suggesting that these proteins may link extracellular signals to the rearrangement of the neuronal cytoskeleton. A role for these proteins in axonal elongation is also supported by their growth-associated expression pattern in nervous system development as well as during neuronal regeneration.
Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Neurobiol 58: 60-69, 2004