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J Cell Biol. 2005 Dec 5;171(5):857-69.

Ral GTPases regulate neurite branching through GAP-43 and the exocyst complex.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, England, UK.


Neurite branching is essential for the establishment of appropriate neuronal connections during development and regeneration. We identify the small GTPase Ral as a mediator of neurite branching. Active Ral promotes neurite branching in cortical and sympathetic neurons, whereas Ral inhibition decreases laminin-induced branching. In addition, depletion of endogenous Ral by RNA interference decreases branching in cortical neurons. The two Ral isoforms, RalA and -B, promote branching through distinct pathways, involving the exocyst complex and phospholipase D, respectively. Finally, Ral-dependent branching is mediated by protein kinase C-dependent phosphorylation of 43-kD growth-associated protein, a crucial molecule involved in pathfinding, plasticity, and regeneration. These findings highlight an important role for Ral in the regulation of neuronal morphology.

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