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J Biol Chem. 2006 Sep 29;281(39):29042-53. Epub 2006 Aug 2.

Regulation of neuronal morphology by Toca-1, an F-BAR/EFC protein that induces plasma membrane invagination.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


Actin reorganization is important for regulation of neuronal morphology. Neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP) is an important regulator of actin polymerization and also known to be strongly expressed in brain. Recently, Toca-1 (transducer of Cdc42-dependent actin assembly) has been shown to be required for Cdc42 to activate N-WASP from biochemical experiments. Toca-1 has three functional domains: an F-BAR/EFC domain at the N terminus, an HR1 at the center, and an SH3 domain at the C terminus. The F-BAR/EFC domain induces tubular invagination of plasma membrane, while Toca-1 binds both N-WASP and Cdc42 through the SH3 domain and the HR1, respectively. However, the physiological role of Toca-1 is completely unknown. Here we have investigated the neural function of Toca-1. Toca-1 is strongly expressed in neurons including hippocampal neurons in developing brain at early times. Knockdown of Toca-1 in PC12 cells significantly enhances neurite elongation. Consistently, overexpression of Toca-1 suppresses neurite elongation through the F-BAR/EFC domain with a membrane invaginating property, suggesting an implication of membrane trafficking in the neural function of Toca-1. In addition, knockdown of N-WASP, to our surprise, also enhances neurite elongation in PC12 cells, which is in clear contrast to the previous report that dominant negative mutants of N-WASP suppress neurite extension in PC12 cells. On the other hand, knockdown of Toca-1 in cultured rat hippocampal neurons enhances axon branching a little but not axon elongation, while knockdown of N-WASP enhances both axon elongation and branching. These results suggest that a vesicle trafficking regulator Toca-1 regulates different aspects of neuronal morphology from N-WASP.

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