Enhanced Functional Genomic Screening Identifies Novel Mediators of Dual Leucine Zipper Kinase-Dependent Injury Signaling in Neurons

Derek S. Welsbie, Katherine L. Mitchell, Vinod Jaskula-Ranga, Valentin M. Sluch, Zhiyong Yang, Jessica Kim, Eugen Buehler, Amit Patel, Scott E. Martin, Ping Wu Zhang, Yan Ge, Yukan Duan, John Fuller, Byung Jin Kim, Eman Hamed, Xitiz Chamling, Lei Lei, Iain D.C. Fraser, Ze'ev A. Ronai, Cynthia A. BerlinickeDonald J. Zack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations

Abstract

Dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK) has been implicated in cell death signaling secondary to axonal damage in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and other neurons. To better understand the pathway through which DLK acts, we developed enhanced functional genomic screens in primary RGCs, including use of arrayed, whole-genome, small interfering RNA libraries. Explaining why DLK inhibition is only partially protective, we identify leucine zipper kinase (LZK) as cooperating with DLK to activate downstream signaling and cell death in RGCs, including in a mouse model of optic nerve injury, and show that the same pathway is active in human stem cell-derived RGCs. Moreover, we identify four transcription factors, JUN, activating transcription factor 2 (ATF2), myocyte-specific enhancer factor 2A (MEF2A), and SRY-Box 11 (SOX11), as being the major downstream mediators through which DLK/LZK activation leads to RGC cell death. Increased understanding of the DLK pathway has implications for understanding and treating neurodegenerative diseases. Welsbie et al. use high-throughput whole-genome siRNA-based screening in primary retinal ganglion cells to identify novel pathway members of DLK-mediated axon injury signaling, including the related kinase LZK and the transcription factors, MEF2A and SOX11.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1154.e6
JournalNeuron
Volume94
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • DLK (dual leucine zipper kinase)
  • LZK (leucine zipper kinase)
  • Neuroprotection
  • RGC (retinal ganglion cell)
  • RNAi screen
  • cell death signaling
  • glaucoma

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