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Neuropharmacology. 2009 Jan;56(1):73-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.06.055. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Regulation of hippocampal long-term potentiation by p21-activated protein kinase 1 (PAK1).

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  • 1Neurosciences and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada.


The Rho family small GTPases are critically involved in the regulation of spine and synaptic properties, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly defined. We took genetic approaches to create and analyze knockout mice deficient in the expression of the protein kinase PAK1 that is directly associated with and activated by the Rho GTPases. We demonstrated that while these knockout mice were normal in both basal and presynaptic function, they were selectively impaired in long-term potentiation (LTP) at hippocampal CA1 synapses. Consistent with the electrophysiological deficits, the PAK1 knockout mice showed changes in the actin cytoskeleton and the actin binding protein cofilin. These results indicate that PAK1 is critical in hippocampal synaptic plasticity via regulating cofilin activity and the actin cytoskeleton.

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