Knockdown of the C. elegans kinome identifies kinases required for normal protein homeostasis, mitochondrial network structure, and sarcomere structure in muscle

Cell Commun Signal. 2013 Sep 23;11:71. doi: 10.1186/1478-811X-11-71.


Background: Kinases are important signalling molecules for modulating cellular processes and major targets of drug discovery programs. However, functional information for roughly half the human kinome is lacking. We conducted three kinome wide, >90%, RNAi screens and epistasis testing of some identified kinases against known intramuscular signalling systems to increase the functional annotation of the C. elegans kinome and expand our understanding of kinome influence upon muscle protein degradation.

Results: 96 kinases were identified as required for normal protein homeostasis, 74 for normal mitochondrial networks and 50 for normal sarcomere structure. Knockdown of kinases required only for normal protein homeostasis and/or mitochondrial structure was significantly less likely to produce a developmental or behavioural phenotype than knockdown of kinases required for normal sarcomere structure and/or other sub-cellular processes. Lastly, assessment of kinases for which knockdown produced muscle protein degradation against the known regulatory pathways in C. elegans muscle revealed that close to half of kinase knockdowns activated autophagy in a MAPK dependent fashion.

Conclusions: Roughly 40% of kinases studied, 159 of 397, are important in establishing or maintaining muscle cell health, with most required for both. For kinases where decreased expression triggers protein degradation, autophagy is most commonly activated. These results increase the annotation of the C. elegans kinome to roughly 75% and enable future kinome research. As 33% of kinases identified have orthologues expressed in human muscle, our results also enable testing of whether identified kinases function similarly in maintaining human muscle homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / enzymology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Sarcomeres / metabolism*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Protein Kinases