During development, cells undergo dynamic morphological changes by rearrangements of the cytoskeleton including microtubules. However, molecular mechanisms underlying the microtubule remodeling between orientated and disoriented formations are almost unknown. Here we found that novel subtypes of collapsin response mediator proteins (CRMP-As) and the originals (CRMP-Bs), which occur from the alternative usage of different first coding exons, are involved in this conversion of microtubule patterns. Overexpression of CRMP2A and CRMP2B in chick embryonic fibroblasts induced orientated and disoriented patterns of microtubules, respectively. Moreover, sequential overexpression of another subtype overcame the effect of the former expression of the countersubtype. Overexpression experiments in cultured chick retinae showed that CRMP2B promoted axon branching and suppressed axon elongation of ganglion cells, while CRMP2A blocked these effects when co-overexpressed. Our findings suggest that the opposing activities of CRMP2A and CRMP2B contribute to the cellular morphogenesis including neuronal axonogenesis through remodeling of microtubule organization.
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