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Alsin/Rac1 signaling controls survival and growth of spinal motoneurons.

Authors: Jacquier, A  Buhler, E  Schafer, MK  Bohl, D  Blanchard, S  Beclin, C  Haase, G 
Citation: Jacquier A, etal., Ann Neurol. 2006 Jul;60(1):105-17.
Pubmed: (View Article at PubMed) PMID:16802292
DOI: Full-text: DOI:10.1002/ana.20886

OBJECTIVE: Recessive mutations in alsin, a guanine-nucleotide exchange factor for the GTPases Rab5 and Rac1, cause juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2) and related motoneuron disorders. Alsin function in motoneurons remained unclear because alsin knock-out mice do not develop overt signs of motoneuron degeneration. METHODS: To generate an alsin loss-of-function model in an ALS-relevant cell type, we developed a new small interfering RNA electroporation technique that allows efficient knock down of alsin in embryonic rat spinal motoneurons. RESULTS: After small interfering RNA-mediated alsin knockdown, cultured motoneurons displayed a reduced apparent size of EEA1-labeled early endosomes and an increased intracellular accumulation of transferrin and L1CAM. Alsin knockdown induced cell death in 32 to 48% of motoneurons and significantly inhibited axon growth in the surviving neurons. Both cellular phenotypes were mimicked by expression of a dominant-negative Rac1 mutant and were completely blocked by expression of a constitutively active Rac1 mutant. Expression of dominant-negative or constitutively active forms of Rab5 had no such effects. INTERPRETATION: Our data demonstrate that alsin controls the growth and survival of motoneurons in a Rac1-dependant manner. The strategy reported here illustrates how small interfering RNA electroporation can be used to generate cellular models of neurodegenerative disease involving a loss-of-function mechanism.

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CRRD Object Information
CRRD ID: 1599082
Created: 2007-01-16
Species: All species
Last Modified: 2007-01-16
Status: ACTIVE



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RGD is funded by grant HL64541 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on behalf of the NIH.