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Neuron. 2012 Mar 22;73(6):1127-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.01.019. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Chemical genetic identification of NDR1/2 kinase substrates AAK1 and Rabin8 Uncovers their roles in dendrite arborization and spine development.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Dendrite arborization and synapse formation are essential for wiring the neural circuitry. The evolutionarily conserved NDR1/2 kinase pathway, important for polarized growth from yeast to mammals, controls dendrite growth and morphology in the worm and fly. The function of NDR1/2 in mammalian neurons and their downstream effectors were not known. Here we show that the expression of dominant negative (kinase-dead) NDR1/2 mutants or siRNA increase dendrite length and proximal branching of mammalian pyramidal neurons in cultures and in vivo, whereas the expression of constitutively active NDR1/2 has the opposite effect. Moreover, NDR1/2 contributes to dendritic spine development and excitatory synaptic function. We further employed chemical genetics and identified NDR1/2 substrates in the brain, including two proteins involved in intracellular vesicle trafficking: AAK1 (AP-2 associated kinase) and Rabin8, a GDP/GTP exchange factor (GEF) of Rab8 GTPase. We finally show that AAK1 contributes to dendrite growth regulation, and Rabin8 regulates spine development.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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