Down-regulation of WNK1 protein kinase in neural progenitor cells suppresses cell proliferation and migration

Xutong Sun, Luoyi Gao, Robert K. Yu, Guichao Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


WNK1, a Ser/Thr protein kinase, is widely expressed in many tissues. Its biological functions are largely unknown. Disruption of the WNK1 gene in mice leads to embryonic lethality at day 13, implicating a critical role of WNK1 in embryonic development. To investigate this potential function, we used antisense strategy to knock down the expression of WNK1 in a mouse neural progenitor cell line, C17.2. Down-regulation of WNK1 in C17.2 cells greatly reduced cell growth. Addition of epidermal growth factor (EGF), a mitogen for C17.2 cells, had no effect on growth. The WNK1-knockdown cells showed a flat and rounded morphology, characteristic of the immature and non-differentiated phenotype of the progenitor cells; this was further demonstrated by immunostaining for the progenitor and neuronal markers. Migration of the WNK1-knockdown C17.2 cells was reduced as tested in culture dishes or Matrigel-covered chambers. Moreover, activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1)/2 and ERK5 by EGF in the WNK1-knockdown cells was suppressed. These results demonstrate a novel function of WNK1 in proliferation, migration, and differentiation of neural progenitor cells, likely by mechanisms involving activation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase ERK1/2 and/or ERK5 pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1121
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Antisense inhibition
  • Cell growth
  • Cell migration
  • Growth factors
  • MAP kinase
  • Neural progenitor cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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