We previously identified Rho-associated protein kinase (Rho-kinase) as a specific effector of Rho. In this study, we identified collapsin response mediator protein-2 (CRMP-2), as a novel Rho-kinase substrate in the brain. CRMP-2 is a neuronal protein whose expression is up-regulated during development. Rho-kinase phosphorylated CRMP-2 at Thr-555 in vitro. We produced an antibody that specifically recognizes CRMP-2 phosphorylated at Thr-555. Using this antibody, we found that Rho-kinase phosphorylated CRMP-2 downstream of Rho in COS7 cells. Phosphorylation of CRMP-2 was observed in chick dorsal root ganglion neurons during lysophosphatidic acid (LPA)-induced growth cone collapse, whereas the phosphorylation was not detected during semaphorin-3A-induced growth cone collapse. Both LPA-induced CRMP-2 phosphorylation and LPA-induced growth cone collapse were inhibited by Rho-kinase inhibitor HA1077 or Y-32885. LPA-induced growth cone collapse was also blocked by a dominant negative form of Rho-kinase. On the other hand, semaphorin-3A-induced growth cone collapse was not inhibited by a dominant negative form of Rho-kinase. Furthermore, overexpression of a mutant CRMP-2 in which Thr-555 was replaced by Ala significantly inhibited LPA-induced growth cone collapse. These results demonstrate the existence of Rho-kinase-dependent and -independent pathways for growth cone collapse and suggest that CRMP-2 phosphorylation by Rho-kinase is involved in the former pathway.
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