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J Neurosci. 2005 Jul 27;25(30):7048-53.

Expression of serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase is regulated in an experience-dependent manner and can cause dendrite growth.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


The interaction of an animal with its environment during a critical period in early postnatal life has lifelong effects on the structure and function of sensory and motor systems. To gain insight into the molecular mechanisms of experience-dependent development, we challenged young rats to adapt to a new environment that engenders novel motor behavior. Rats born in the gravitational field (1G) of the earth subsequently were reared for 2 weeks either in the absence of gravity (microgravity) or at 1G. A comparison of gene expression using microarrays led to the identification of a panel of differentially regulated transcripts. We report here that the abundance of serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase (SGK) is increased in spinal cord tissue from animals reared in microgravity in comparison with 1G-reared controls. The induction of SGK expression also can be achieved by administration of glucocorticoids to animals at 1G or neurons in vitro. Expression of constitutively active SGK in neurons leads to the elaboration of neuronal dendrites and their branching. Glucocorticoids also lead to dendrite elaboration, and this effect can be abrogated by inhibiting SGK activity. Changes in the level of expression of SGK could be part of the mechanism for experience-dependent acquisition of mature neuronal properties.

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