Crosstalk between the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons underlies cellular morphogenesis. Interactions between actin filaments and microtubules are particularly important for establishing the complex polarized morphology of neurons. Here, we characterized the neuronal function of growth arrest-specific 2-like 1 (Gas2L1), a protein that can directly bind to actin, microtubules and microtubule plus-end-tracking end binding proteins. We found that Gas2L1 promotes axon branching, but restricts axon elongation in cultured rat hippocampal neurons. Using pull-down experiments and in vitro reconstitution assays, in which purified Gas2L1 was combined with actin and dynamic microtubules, we demonstrated that Gas2L1 is autoinhibited. This autoinhibition is relieved by simultaneous binding to actin filaments and microtubules. In neurons, Gas2L1 primarily localizes to the actin cytoskeleton and functions as an actin stabilizer. The microtubule-binding tail region of Gas2L1 directs its actin-stabilizing activity towards the axon. We propose that Gas2L1 acts as an actin regulator, the function of which is spatially modulated by microtubules.
Keywords: axon; cytolinker; cytoskeleton; in vitro reconstitution; neuronal development.
© 2019 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.