Semaphorin 3A is a chemorepulsive axonal guidance molecule that depolymerizes the actin cytoskeleton and collapses growth cones of dorsal root ganglia neurons. Here we investigate the role of LIM-kinase 1, which phosphorylates an actin-depolymerizing protein, cofilin, in semaphorin 3A-induced growth cone collapse. Semaphorin 3A induced phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of cofilin at growth cones sequentially. A synthetic cell-permeable peptide containing a cofilin phosphorylation site inhibited LIM-kinase in vitro and in vivo, and essentially suppressed semaphorin 3A-induced growth cone collapse. A dominant-negative LIM kinase, which could not be activated by PAK or ROCK, suppressed the collapsing activity of semaphorin 3A. Phosphorylation of cofilin by LIM-kinase may be a critical signaling event in growth cone collapse by semaphorin 3A.
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