The proper display of transmembrane receptors on the leading edge of migrating cells and cell extensions is essential for their response to guidance cues. We previously discovered that MADD-4, which is an ADAMTSL secreted by motor neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans, interacts with an UNC-40/EVA-1 co-receptor complex on muscles to attract plasma membrane extensions called muscle arms. In nematodes, the muscle arm termini harbor the post-synaptic elements of the neuromuscular junction. Through a forward genetic screen for mutants with disrupted muscle arm extension, we discovered that a LAMMER kinase, which we call MADD-3, is required for the proper display of the EVA-1 receptor on the muscle’s plasma membrane. Without MADD-3, EVA-1 levels decrease concomitantly with a reduction of the late-endosomal marker RAB-7. Through a genetic suppressor screen, we found that the levels of EVA-1 and RAB-7 can be restored in madd-3 mutants by eliminating the function of a p38 MAP kinase pathway. We also found that EVA-1 and RAB-7 will accumulate in madd-3 mutants upon disrupting CUP-5, which is a mucolipin ortholog required for proper lysosome function. Together, our data suggests that the MADD-3 LAMMER kinase antagonizes the p38-mediated endosomal trafficking of EVA-1 to the lysosome. In this way, MADD-3 ensures that sufficient levels of EVA-1 are present to guide muscle arm extension towards the source of the MADD-4 guidance cue.
D’Souza, S. A., Rajendran, L., Bagg, R., Barbier, L., van Pel, D. M., Moshiri, H., & Roy, P. J. (2016). The MADD-3 LAMMER Kinase Interacts with a p38 MAP Kinase Pathway to Regulate the Display of the EVA-1 Guidance Receptor in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS Genetics, 12(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006010