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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 4;105(44):17181-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800846105. Epub 2008 Oct 28.

TrkB-mediated activation of geranylgeranyltransferase I promotes dendritic morphogenesis.

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  • 1Institute of Neuroscience, State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200031, China. zgluo@ion.ac.cn


Dendrite morphogenesis is regulated by neuronal activity or neurotrophins, which may function by activating intrinsic signaling proteins, including Rho family GTPases. Here we report that activity- and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-dependent dendritic morphogenesis requires activation of geranylgeranyltransferase I (GGT), a prenyltransferase that mediates lipid modification of Rho GTPases. Dendritic arborization in cultured hippocampal neurons was promoted by over-expression of GGT, and reduced by inhibition or down-regulation of GGT. Furthermore, GGT was activated by neuronal depolarization or BDNF, both of which promote dendritic arborization, in cultured hippocampal neurons. Moreover, exploration of a novel environment caused activation of GGT in the mice hippocampus, suggesting that neural activity activates GGT in vivo. Interestingly, GGT was physically associated with tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB), the receptor for BDNF, and this association was enhanced by depolarization. Disrupting the GGT-TrkB interaction or down-regulating GGT activity attenuated depolarization- or BDNF-induced dendrite development. Finally, the GGT effect on dendrite arborization was prevented by over-expressing Rac1 with the prenylation site deleted or mutated. Thus depolarization- or BDNF-dependent dendrite development may be mediated by GGT-induced prenylation of Rho GTPases.

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