Changes in neuronal morphology underlying neuronal differentiation depend on rapid and sustained cytoskeleton rearrangements in the growing neurites. Whereas cell adhesion molecules are well established as regulators of neuronal differentiation, less is known about the signaling mechanisms by which they influence the cytoskeleton. Here we show that the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) associates with the active form of caspase-8 and that clustering of NCAM at the neuronal cell surface leads to activation of caspase-8 and -3 followed by the cleavage of the sub-membranous brain spectrin meshwork, but not of the actin or tubulin cytoskeleton. Inhibitors of caspase-8 and -3 specifically block the NCAM-dependent spectrin cleavage and abolish NCAM-dependent neurite outgrowth. NCAM-dependent rearrangements of the membrane associated spectrin meshwork via caspase-8 dependent caspase-3 activation are thus indispensable for NCAM-mediated neurite outgrowth.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology