Scientific reports

The hypoparathyroidism-associated mutation in Drosophila Gcm compromises protein stability and glial cell formation.

PMID 28051179


Differentiated neurons and glia are acquired from immature precursors via transcriptional controls exerted by factors such as proteins in the family of Glial Cells Missing (Gcm). Mammalian Gcm proteins mediate neural stem cell induction, placenta and parathyroid development, whereas Drosophila Gcm proteins act as a key switch to determine neuronal and glial cell fates and regulate hemocyte development. The present study reports a hypoparathyroidism-associated mutation R59L that alters Drosophila Gcm (Gcm) protein stability, rendering it unstable, and hyperubiquitinated via the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). Gcm(R59L) interacts with the Slimb-based SCF complex and Protein Kinase C (PKC), which possibly plays a role in its phosphorylation, hence altering ubiquitination. Additionally, R59L causes reduced Gcm protein levels in a manner independent of the PEST domain signaling protein turnover. Gcm(R59L) proteins bind DNA, functionally activate transcription, and induce glial cells, yet at a less efficient level. Finally, overexpression of either wild-type human Gcmb (hGcmb) or hGcmb carrying the conserved hypoparathyroidism mutation only slightly affects gliogenesis, indicating differential regulatory mechanisms in human and flies. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the significance of this disease-associated mutation in controlling Gcm protein stability via UPS, hence advance our understanding on how glial formation is regulated.