Recent studies have shown the small GTPases, Rac1, Rho, and CDC42, to have a role in axon guidance. To assess their participation in synapse assembly and function we have expressed various forms of Drac1 in the giant fiber system of Drosophila. Overexpression of wild-type Drac1 in the giant fiber (GF) lead to a disruption in axonal morphology; axons often terminate prematurely in a large swelling in the target area but lack the normal lateral bend where the synapse with the jump motor neuron would normally be found. Electrophysiological assays revealed longer latencies and lowering following frequencies indicating defects in the synapse between the GF and the tergotrochanteral motor neuron (TTMn). Thickened abnormal GF dendrites were also observed in the brain. Overexpression of the dominant-negative form of Drac1, (N17), resulted in axons that produced extra branches in the second thoracic neuromere (T2); however, the synaptic connection to the TTMn was present and functioned normally. Conversely, expression of the constitutively active form, Drac1(V12), resulted in a complete lack of neurite outgrowth and this was also seen with overexpression of Dcdc42(V12). In the absence of a GF, these flies showed no response in the jump (TTM) or flight (DLM) muscles upon brain stimulation. Taken together these results show that the balance of actin polymerization and depolymerization determines local process outgrowth and thereby synapse structure and function.
"Several studies using over-expression of dominant-negative transgenes, or homozygous adult viable mutations, have recently shed light on signaling mechanisms during the formation of the GF-TTMn synapse. These include the receptors Semaphorin 1a and Roundabout [4,5]; the L-1 type cell-adhesion molecule Neuroglian ; the endocytotic and ubiquitin machinery [7-10]; the small GTPase DRac1 , and the transcription factor Ken . However, the precise mechanisms by which these integrate during synaptogenesis are yet to emerge. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Glued gene of Drosophila melanogaster encodes the homologue of the vertebrate p150Glued subunit of dynactin. The Glued1 mutation compromises the dynein-dynactin retrograde motor complex and causes disruptions to the adult eye and the CNS, including sensory neurons and the formation of the giant fiber system neural circuit.
We performed a 2-stage genetic screen to identify mutations that modified phenotypes caused by over-expression of a dominant-negative Glued protein. We screened over 34,000 flies and isolated 41 mutations that enhanced or suppressed an eye phenotype. Of these, 12 were assayed for interactions in the giant fiber system by which they altered a giant fiber morphological phenotype and/or altered synaptic function between the giant fiber and the tergotrochanteral muscle motorneuron. Six showed interactions including a new allele of atypical protein kinase C (aPKC). We show that this cell polarity regulator interacts with Glued during central synapse formation. We have mapped the five other interacting mutations to discrete chromosomal regions.
Our results show that an efficient way to screen for genes involved in central synapse formation is to use a two-step strategy in which a screen for altered eye morphology precedes the analysis of central synaptogenesis. This has highlighted a role for aPKC in the formation of an identified central synapse.
"Cdc42 regulates various aspects of neuronal differentiation including neurite outgrowth and extension (for review see Govek et al., 2005). However, paradoxically, both active and inactive mutants of Cdc42 have been reported to inhibit neurite outgrowth and neuronal differentiation (Luo et al., 1994; Allen et al., 2000; Aoki et al., 2004). NGF-driven differentiation of PC12 cells normally proceeds through a two-step process where cells initially spread and produce lamellipodia and unstable filopodia and then extend stable neurites (Greene and Tischler, 1976; Aoki et al., 2004). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuronal differentiation involves the formation and extension of neuronal processes. We have identified a novel regulator of neurite formation and extension, the neurite outgrowth multiadaptor, NOMA-GAP, which belongs to a new family of multiadaptor proteins with RhoGAP activity. We show that NOMA-GAP is essential for NGF-stimulated neuronal differentiation and for the regulation of the ERK5 MAP kinase and the Cdc42 signaling pathways downstream of NGF. NOMA-GAP binds directly to the NGF receptor, TrkA, and becomes tyrosine phosphorylated upon receptor activation, thus enabling recruitment and activation of the tyrosine phosphatase SHP2. Recruitment of SHP2 is required for the stimulation of neuronal process extension and for sustained activation of ERK5 downstream of NOMA-GAP. In addition, we show that NOMA-GAP promotes neurite outgrowth by tempering activation of the Cdc42/PAK signaling pathway in response to NGF. NOMA-GAP, through its dual function as a multiadaptor and RhoGAP protein, thus plays an essential role downstream of NGF in promoting neurite outgrowth and extension.
The Journal of Cell Biology 08/2007; 178(3):503-16. DOI:10.1083/jcb.200609146 · 9.83 Impact Factor
"Additional studies have used GAL4 enhancer traps to target expression of genes to the GFS. Using targeted expression in the GFS, the role of dynein–dynactin in synaptogenesis has been explored (Allen et al. 1999), and the cytoskeletal structure of the GF axon is controlled in part by the Ras-–Rac signalling pathways (Allen et al. 2000). In addition, the roles of the three Robo homologues and semaphorin in axon guidance, dendrite formation and synaptic function of GFS components have been partially dissected (Godenschwege et al. 2002a, b). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The giant fibre system (GFS) of Drosophila is a simple neural circuit that mediates escape responses in adult flies. Here we report the initial characterization of two genes that are preferentially expressed in the GFS. Two P-element insertion lines, carrying the GAL4 transcriptional activator, were identified that exhibited pronounced expression in elements of the GFS and relatively low levels elsewhere within the adult central nervous system. Genomic DNA flanking the P-element insertion site was recovered from each of these lines, sequenced, and nearby transcripts identified and confirmed to exhibit GFS expression by in situ hybridization. This analysis revealed that these P-elements were in previously characterized genes. Line P[GAL4]-A307 has an insert in the gene short stop for which we have identified a novel transcript, while line P[GAL4]-141 has an insert in the transcription factor ken and barbie. Here we show that ken and barbie mutants have defects in escape behaviour, behavioural responses to visual stimuli and synaptic functions in the GFS. We have therefore revealed a neural role for a transcription factor that previously had no implicated neural function.
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