Wang, B., Doan, D., Roman Petersen, Y., Alvarado, E., Alvarado, G., Bhandari, A., Mohanty, A., Mohanty, S., and Nissen, R.M. (2013) Wdr68 requires nuclear access for craniofacial development. PLoS One. 8(1):e54363.
Wdr68 is a highly conserved scaffolding protein required for craniofacial development and left-right asymmetry. A Ras-Map3k-Wdr68-Dyrk1 signaling relay may mediate these and other diverse signaling events important in development and disease. While the sub-cellular localization of Wdr68 has been shown to be dependent on that of its interaction partners, it is not clear where Wdr68 activity is required during development. Here we show that while a GFP-Wdr68 fusion functionally substituted for craniofacial development in the zebrafish, that a Nuclear Export Signal (NES) fusion protein (GFPNESWdr68) failed to support craniofacial development. As control for NES activity, we show that while GFP-Wdr68 exhibited a pan-cellular distribution in C2C12 cells, the GFPNESWdr68 fusion predominantly localized to the cell cytoplasm, as expected. Interestingly, while GFP-Wdr68 and RFP-Dyrk1a co-localized to the cell nucleus as expected based on the known sub-cellular localization for Dyrk1a, we found that the GFPNESWdr68 fusion redistributed RFP-Dyrk1a to the cell cytoplasm potentially disconnecting the Ras/Dyrk1 signal relay from further downstream targets. Consistent with a nuclear role in gene regulation, we also found that while a transcriptional activation domain fusion, CebpFlagWdr68, functionally substituted for endogenous Wdr68 for craniofacial development, that a transcriptional repression domain fusion, MadFlagWdr68, failed to support craniofacial development. Dyrk1b is required for myogenin (myog) expression in differentiating mouse C2C12 cells and here we report that wdr68 is also important for myog expression in differentiating C2C12 cells. Using a C2C12 cell myog promoter-reporter system, we found that Wdr68 overexpression increased reporter activity while moderate expression levels of MadFlagWdr68 interfered with reporter activity. Taken together, these findings support a nuclear role for Wdr68-containing complexes.