Neuron navigator 2 (Nav2) was first identified as an all-trans retinoic acid (atRA)-responsive gene in human neuroblastoma cells (retinoic acid-induced in neuroblastoma 1, RAINB1) that extend neurites after exposure to atRA. It is structurally related to the Caenorhabditis elegans unc-53 gene that is required for cell migration and axonal outgrowth. To gain insight into NAV2 function, the full-length human protein was expressed in C. elegans unc-53 mutants under the control of a mechanosensory neuron promoter. Transgene expression of NAV2 rescued the defects in unc-53 mutant mechanosensory neuron elongation, indicating that Nav2 is an ortholog of unc-53. Using a loss-of-function approach, we also show that Nav2 induction is essential for atRA to induce neurite outgrowth in SH-SY5Y cells. The NAV2 protein is located both in the cell body and along the length of the growing neurites of SH-SY5Y cells in a pattern that closely mimics that of neurofilament and microtubule proteins. Transfection of Nav2 deletion constructs in Cos-1 cells reveals a region of the protein (aa 837-1065) that directs localization with the microtubule cytoskeleton. Collectively, this work supports a role for NAV2 in neurite outgrowth and axonal elongation and suggests this protein may act by facilitating interactions between microtubules and other proteins such as neurofilaments that are key players in the formation and stability of growing neurites.
- Neurite outgrowth
- Retinoic acid
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience