Essential Role for Vav Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors in Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor-Induced Dendritic Spine Growth and Synapse Plasticity

Departments of Psychiatry and Ophthalmology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 08/2011; 31(35):12426-36. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0685-11.2011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its cognate receptor, TrkB, regulate a wide range of cellular processes, including dendritic spine formation and functional synapse plasticity. However, the signaling mechanisms that link BDNF-activated TrkB to F-actin remodeling enzymes and dendritic spine morphological plasticity remain poorly understood. We report here that BDNF/TrkB signaling in neurons activates the Vav family of Rac/RhoA guanine nucleotide exchange factors through a novel TrkB-dependent mechanism. We find that Vav is required for BDNF-stimulated Rac-GTP production in cortical and hippocampal neurons. Vav is partially enriched at excitatory synapses in the postnatal hippocampus but does not appear to be required for normal dendritic spine density. Rather, we observe significant reductions in both BDNF-induced, rapid, dendritic spine head growth and in CA3-CA1 theta burst-stimulated long-term potentiation in Vav-deficient mouse hippocampal slices, suggesting that Vav-dependent regulation of dendritic spine morphological plasticity facilitates normal functional synapse plasticity.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The complex molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying neuronal control of animal movement are not well understood. Locomotion of Caenorhabditis elegans is mediated by a neuronal circuit that produces coordinated sinusoidal movement. Here we utilize this simple, yet elegant, behaviour to show that VAV-1, a conserved guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rho-family GTPases, negatively regulates motor circuit activity and the rate of locomotion. While vav-1 is expressed in a small subset of neurons, we find that VAV-1 function is required in a single interneuron, ALA, to regulate motor neuron circuit activity. Furthermore, we show by genetic and optogenetic manipulation of ALA that VAV-1 is required for the excitation and activation of this neuron. We find that ALA signalling inhibits command interneuron activity by abrogating excitatory signalling in the command interneurons, which is responsible for promoting motor neuron circuit activity. Together, our data describe a novel neuromodulatory role for VAV-1-dependent signalling in the regulation of motor circuit activity and locomotion.
    Nature Communications 11/2014; 5:5579. DOI:10.1038/ncomms6579 · 10.74 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT The Vav family is a group of tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated signal transduction molecules hierarchically located downstream of protein tyrosine kinases. The main function of these proteins is to work as guanosine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) for members of the Rho GTPase family. In addition, they can exhibit a variety of catalysis-independent roles in specific signaling contexts. Vav proteins play essential signaling roles for both the development and/or effector functions of a large variety of cell lineages, including those belonging to the immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. They also contribute to pathological states such as cancer, immune-related dysfunctions, and atherosclerosis. Here, I will provide an integrated view about the evolution, regulation, and effector properties of these signaling molecules. In addition, I will discuss the pros and cons for their potential consideration as therapeutic targets.
    Small GTPases 11/2014; DOI:10.4161/21541248.2014.973757
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Repeated cocaine exposure causes persistent, maladaptive alterations in brain and behavior, and hope for effective therapeutics lies in understanding these processes. We describe here an essential role for fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), an RNA-binding protein and regulator of dendritic protein synthesis, in cocaine conditioned place preference, behavioral sensitization, and motor stereotypy. Cocaine reward deficits in FMRP-deficient mice stem from elevated mGluR5 (or GRM5) function, similar to a subset of fragile X symptoms, and do not extend to natural reward. We find that FMRP functions in the adult nucleus accumbens (NAc), a critical addiction-related brain region, to mediate behavioral sensitization but not cocaine reward. FMRP-deficient mice also exhibit several abnormalities in NAc medium spiny neurons, including reduced presynaptic function and premature changes in dendritic morphology and glutamatergic neurotransmission following repeated cocaine treatment. Together, our findings reveal FMRP as a critical mediator of cocaine-induced behavioral and synaptic plasticity.
    Neuron 05/2014; 82(3):645-58. DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.03.028 · 15.77 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 21, 2014