The JNK-interacting protein 3 (JIP3) is a molecular scaffold, expressed predominantly in neurons, that serves to coordinate the activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) by binding to JNK and the upstream kinases involved in its activation. The JNK pathway is involved in the regulation of many cellular processes including the control of cell survival, cell death and differentiation. JIP3 also associates with microtubule motor proteins such as kinesin and dynein and is likely an adapter protein involved in the tethering of vesicular cargoes to the motors involved in axonal transport in neurons. We have used immunofluorescence microscopy and biochemical fractionation to investigate the subcellular distribution of JIP3 in relation to JNK and to vesicular and organelle markers in rat pheochromocytoma cells (PC12) differentiating in response to nerve growth factor. In differentiated PC12 cells, JIP3 was seen to accumulate in growth cones at the tips of developing neurites where it co-localised with both JNK and the JNK substrate paxillin. Cellular fractionation of PC12 cells showed that JIP3 was associated with a subpopulation of vesicles in the microsomal fraction, distinct from synaptic vesicles, likely to be an anterograde-directed exocytic vesicle pool. In differentiated PC12 cells, JIP3 did not appear to associate with retrograde endosomal vesicles thought to be involved in signalling axonal injury. Together, these observations indicate that JIP3 may be involved in transporting vesicular cargoes to the growth cones of PC12 cells, possibly targeting JNK to its substrate paxillin, and thus facilitating neurite outgrowth.
- PC12 cells