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J Neurosci. 1999 Oct 1;19(19):8454-63.

The neuronal architecture of Xenopus retinal ganglion cells is sculpted by rho-family GTPases in vivo.

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Biology Department, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0357, USA.


Dendritogenesis, axonogenesis, pathfinding, and target recognition are all affected in distinct ways when Xenopus retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are transfected with constitutively active (ca), wild-type (wt), and dominant negative (dn) Rho-family GTPases in vivo. Dendritogenesis required Rac1 and Cdc42 activity. Moreover, ca-Rac1 caused dendrite hyperproliferation. Axonogenesis, in contrast, was inhibited by ca-Rac1. This phenotype was partially rescued by the coexpression of dn cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk5), a proposed effector of Rac1, suggesting that Rac1 activity must be regulated tightly for normal axonogenesis. Growth cone morphology was particularly sensitive to dn-RhoA and wt-Cdc42 constructs. These also caused targeting errors, such as tectal bypass, suggesting that cytoskeletal rearrangements are involved in target recognition and are transduced by these pathways.

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