Directed cell migration and process outgrowth are vital to proper development of many metazoan tissues. These processes are dependent on reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton in response to external guidance cues. During development of the nervous system, the MIG-10/RIAM/Lamellipodin (MRL) signaling proteins are thought to transmit positional information from surface guidance cues to the actin polymerization machinery, and thus to promote polarized outgrowth of axons. In C. elegans, mutations in the MRL family member gene mig-10 result in animals that have defects in axon guidance, neuronal migration, and the outgrowth of the processes or 'canals' of the excretory cell, which is required for osmoregulation in the worm. In addition, mig-10 mutant animals have recently been shown to have defects in clustering of vesicles at the synapse. To determine additional molecular partners of MIG-10, we conducted a yeast two-hybrid screen using isoform MIG-10A as bait and isolated Abelson-interactor protein-1 (ABI-1). ABI-1, a downstream target of Abl non-receptor tyrosine kinase, is a member of the WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) involved in the initiation of actin polymerization. Further analysis using a co-immunoprecipitation system confirmed the interaction of MIG-10 and ABI-1 and showed that it requires the SH3 domain of ABI-1. Single mutants for mig-10 and abi-1 displayed similar phenotypes of incomplete migration of the ALM neurons and truncated outgrowth of the excretory cell canals, suggesting that the ABI-1/MIG-10 interaction is relevant in vivo. Cell autonomous expression of MIG-10 isoforms rescued both the neuronal migration and the canal outgrowth defects, showing that MIG-10 functions autonomously in the ALM neurons and the excretory cell. These results suggest that MIG-10 and ABI-1 interact physically to promote cell migration and process outgrowth in vivo. In the excretory canal, ABI-1 is thought to act downstream of UNC-53/NAV2, linking this large scaffolding protein to actin polymerization during excretory canal outgrowth. abi-1(RNAi) enhanced the excretory canal truncation observed in mig-10 mutants, while double mutant analysis between unc-53 and mig-10 showed no increased truncation of the posterior canal beyond that observed in mig-10 mutants. Morphological analysis of mig-10 and unc-53 mutants showed that these genes regulate canal diameter as well as its length, suggesting that defective lumen formation may be linked to the ability of the excretory canal to grow out longitudinally. Taken together, our results suggest that MIG-10, UNC-53, and ABI-1 act sequentially to mediate excretory cell process outgrowth.
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